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Come in Big Brother, make yourself at home... [Bristol Evening Post (England)]
[March 28, 2014]

Come in Big Brother, make yourself at home... [Bristol Evening Post (England)]

(Bristol Evening Post (England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) UNNY old thing, the internet.

It gives us so much, doesn't it? FYou can do almost anything anywhere, as long as you've got signal and you're connected. Of course different ages have different attitudes to the price we pay. For the youngsters who have grown up in the digital age, it all makes perfect sense. Ask them if they fancy returning to a pre- virtual world and they just shake their heads at the crazy person. Of course it's worth it.

But for those of us who remember a time before everything went online, there are down sides. Being free to do what you like, where you like is all very well. But you do have to remember that nothing that happens on the internet is private. Not that privacy is of much interest to the Facebook generation. They post and tweet every tiny detail of their lives for all to see and share. The old idea that an Englishman's home is his castle has been thrown right out of the window. Along with freedom of speech and thought. But hey ho, that's progress. Who ever thought that Big Brother would be welcomed with open networks by so many people? Of course, being all grown up and therefore given to ranting, I could easily get wound up and grumpy about this. But it hardly seems worth the effort. There were ancient Greeks who despaired because the world was going to the dogs and it seems like nothing much has changed over the last few thousand years. Sigh.

It's odd when I talk to my parents about this stuff. My dad was one of those blokes who could do practically anything when I was a kid. If our family home got too small for his growing family, he simply rolled up his shirt sleeves and built an extension. He even rescued the hedgehogs that kept on falling into the foundations. Seem to remember they were very cute and oddly pleasant to stroke, considering the prickles. But I digress.

When the car broke down my dad would lift up the bonnet, get out some tools and mend it. When something big and heavy needed shifting, he would just pick it up. My brothers and I would watch as he shifted it. Then he got older and I grew up and there came a day when we were both working away in his garden. We were moving paving slabs around and I suddenly realised that I was the one doing the shifting and he was the one doing the watching. Something had been passed, quietly, from one generation to the next and neither of us felt the need to discuss it.

Fast forward a few years and everything in the world is run over the internet. Neither of my folks have got any time for it whatsoever. When people ask my dad for his email address he proudly tells them that he hasn't got one, has never had one and definitely doesn't want one now. As far as he and my mum are concerned, the internet is just a piece of modern foolishness. One that they hope will leave them alone if they ignore it long enough. They don't have a computer, a tablet, a smart phone or broadband. I have tried to persuade them that digital is a good thing. That they should give it a go. But they're not interested.

This is where my brother and I come in. We have to deal with the virtual world for them. Their utility bill, for example. It doesn't get posted through their door anymore. It's emailed to me. When I go and see my parents I take my phone into the garage and use it to send meter readings to Scotland.

The reason I mention all this is because of my new printer. It's a joyous thing that spews out printed paper at an incredible rate and is networked so that every computing device in the house can use it. It's brilliant. The trouble is. I can't make it do a single thing. It won't print, it won't beep, it won't even acknowledge that I exist. But Son No. 2 can make it do whatever he wants. When I ask him to come and mend it, again, he strolls into my office, rolls his eyes at it and the stupid thing prints whatever he wants. But the minute Son No. 2 leaves the building, that printer sits there with its virtual arms folded. Sulking at me and laughing behind my back. I can't help feeling that something has been passed from one generation to the next, again. Only this time, it's not being done quietly. The worst thing is, that it feels as if the internet is having the last laugh somehow. Along with Son No. 2 and that pesky printer, of course. Grrrr.

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