Saturday, March 30, 2013

Teaching Somebody to Ride a Bicycle Over the Phone

My wife called her mother to wish her a happy birthday on Saturday night. We have grandchildren ourselves who are grown adults so you can imagine how many birthdays that my mother-in-law has stacked up. My wife handed the phone to me after a few minutes.

“Mom wants to talk to you.”

Mom and I get on well enough but it’s unusual that she wants to talk to me over the phone. However, she stayed a few months with us during the past winter to get away from the northern winter. During that time she got a few samples of my writing and especially liked the humor stories.

Having misplaced the copies of my stories that she took home with her she was asking me to snail mail duplicates to her.

“Mom, you can pull them off of the internet yourself,” I told her, “and have them a lot faster.”

“Oh, okay, but how do I do that?”

I started to tell her how to find where the stories were posted. It wasn’t working. In addition, I realized that she would struggle to find the five or six stories that she wanted out of the dozens that I had posted.

“I’ll tell you what, Mom. It might be easier if you just search my name in Google.” I did so myself as I spoke. When I saw all of the things popped up I decided that might be bad idea, too. Mom could have found my name attached to Search Warp but she would still struggle to find what she wanted to read.

I had another idea that we could just friend-up on Facebook. I have an author page on there and she is familiar enough with Facebook. Unfortunately, Mom has a fairly common name and that made searching for her, to do friend request, a difficult task.

“Do you have an email address?” I knew the answer as I asked.

“Okay, does Nicole have an email address?” Nicole was the daughter that she lived with.

There was another voice for a time and I wasn't sure who was talking to whom. Finally, Mom asked if I just couldn't snail mail the stories to her.

“If that’s the only way,” I promised her, “but you could have them instantly via the internet.”

I left her with the promise that I’d get her Facebook identification from my wife and hook her up that way. As it turned out my wife also had her sister’s email address and I sent all of the six URLs via email. I also made the Facebook connection so that she could find, at least, some of the articles linked on my author page or the news feed.

Later I looked at my wife and said, “You know, that was quite like trying to teach somebody how to ride a bicycle over the phone.”

“That’s just wrong,” was her response.


  1. Great analogy, Marlin! It's a bit like trying to teach somebody to sing if they're tone deaf...

    Reading this reminded me of how complicated the Internet seemed when I first started using it. I remember so clearly the first blog I set up; it seemed impossibly difficult.

  2. the internet an be a confusing place for people who don't know anything about it...glad she got your articles, though.
    my best,