So for this week, I’ve been asked to go back and have another little chat with my grandmother, Barbie, about her household’s access to the internet. I might as well save you some time– it’s limited. And by limited I mean, non-existent.
There was a time, back when my Grandfather was still kicking, that my grandparents had a fairly beaten down old laptop– which is now sitting, unused, in my mother’s wardrobe. Because when my Grandfather finally decided he could no longer successfully use this piece of machinery, it was passed on to my brothers and I to fight over. He used this laptop for things like emails and checking the weather, nothing too special. I don’t really think Barbie had much to do with it at all, I think she was quite fond of the fact that the computer was his and she didn’t have to deal with it.
So when the laptop was passed down to us, and then years later my Grandfather passed away, Barbie has had absolutely no access to the internet– and I think she quite likes this. She occupies one of our old iPhones, “it’s really only for emergencies. I barely know how to use it– you know that!” She is strictly a TV, reading or games person. Obviously she has some involvement with the internet, if my mother or I, or any of her other grandchildren, decide to show her something. She’s quite fascinated with the use of our smartphones and the things we’re able to achieve on these tablets, but it’s just not for her. She really has no need to use the internet, and I think it makes her life that bit more simple. To be honest, I’m a little jealous.
Gregg (2010, p. 156) paints a picture of “the nuclear family” and their individual interaction with a screen. This reminds me of my family, and not so much now, but in the early 2000’s. My dad is a chief technician officer for an investment company. He develops software and can write code; he’s got the whole computer thing down pat. Whether he likes it or not. When I was between the ages of 9-12, whilst living in the US, my family had 5 televisions and 6 computers operating in our household. My oldest brothers were ages 16-18 and barely around the house at all. Our family, although quite close, felt very distant because of our individual interactions with the many different screens in our house. I often brought the family laptop in my room, where I talked to friends for hours on AIM and watched a movie on my own TV. My parents have reflected recently, that buying my brother and I televisions for our own room was probably a huge mistake. It made us anti-social. It wasn’t until we moved to Australia, into a small townhouse, with only one computer and TV-sitting area, that my family was forced interact and rekindle our close bond.
It’s not so much the same these days. We’re older, we all live separately and we all have our own computers. My brother and I have recently changed our internet over to NBN, something I was very excited about because I felt enraged at how slowly my internet was streaming an episode of Friends. And you know what? NBN sucks. It’s no different, at least not right now. I’ve heard people across town saying that all of Gerringong’s internet is playing up, and then I heard on Triple J, them discussing how shocking all of Australia’s internet is at the moment. Gregg talks about the switch to high-speed internet access, but I got to be honest, I’ve yet to seen it in action.
I really don’t care too much though. Like I said, I’d rather be in Barbie’s shoes. Internet free. Doesn’t that sound calming, pleasant? I think so.
Gregg, M 2010, Available in Selected Metros Only Rural Melancholy and the Promise of Online Connectivity, Cultural Studies Review, 16(1), pp.155-169.