Guest post by Drew McCreadie, Creative Director of The Comedy Club Bangkok and all-round comic genius.
Half a Head
I assume that my mother and father both have complete heads. I have to make that assumption because when I video chat with them, they each sit at the edge of the frame with only one half of their face on camera.
The Beauty of Video Chat
For the past few years living abroad, chatting with the parentals by video chat has made the distance seem a lot less, and I am thankful for the advent of this particular bit of technology. But it has begun to dawn on me that most of the time I spend chatting with my parents is more like an IT service call than a family connection. Every chat starts with an update about the garden, but invariably ends with a ‘quick’ computer problem question.
A Computer with A Mind of Its Own
First it was the computer, that had “removed Microsoft Word from itself somehow.” Then there was the time when I received an email from my mother, which informed me: “for some reason the letter between z and c on the keyboard isn’t working. I can’t type what letter it is because it isn’t working.” After a two hour video chat with them both, trying to determine whether it was a keyboard malfunction, or some software glitch that was causing the problem with the letter ‘x’ (the letter between z and c), I heard the tell-tale Mac bong sound whenever they would type x; the bong sound when the OS rejects a command. After some more searching I discovered that ‘the computer’ has somehow mapped x to attempt to open ‘Speakable Items’. I asked my dad, “Have you been messing around with the preferences at all maybe… setting keys as hot-keys?” He thought about it for a second and replied, “Hmm. Maybe.” To which my mother, from her side of the frame cried out, “He’s got a guilty face! He’s got a guilty face!!”
The Energy Field
I am starting to think that my father in particular might be generating some kind of negative energy field around him, as the ‘malfunctions’ he is able to create I have never heard of before. He received an iPad as a gift, which I thought was great, because it is pretty hard to mess things up on an iPad. But somehow he had managed to get icons on the home screen that when tapped would open up a webpage to midget movies (and I don’t mean The Wizard of Oz!). Of course I had to get in the obligatory dig asking him if he was sure this wasn’t what he had intended. But I have never seen anything like it.
The good news is that they are both undeterred by the ever-accelerating pace of technological change, and they both have an enormous amount of patience. Technology can be daunting and sometimes overwhelming to our parents’ generation. The term ‘parental controls’ has taken on a whole new meaning for me, as I try to set up my parent’s computer so that it is impossible for them to accidently erase software, or inadvertently download midget movies. Just when I think I have managed to do so, my dad’s negative force-field interacts with the space-time continuum and some new IT problem arises. It does give us something to chat about, and it is nice to be able to help out the folks, even from a distance.
Drew is a professional writer, improvisor, and Creative Director of The Comedy Club Bangkok. He is also a part-time computer technician for his parents.