I got myself a smart phone only two years ago. Until then, I went around with a normal phone — the kind that is used to make and receive calls. Then, something happened — I was given a phone that did more than just make calls. It was a revelation, and out of nowhere a whole new world opened up in front of me.
Social media took over my life in no time. It is always there. And it didn’t take much of me to get hooked. Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter somehow drowned my life. I was soon chatting with mothers whom I had never met.
About two months ago, my 76-year-old father-in-law (FIL) got a smart phone. At first I was unsure. Surely, what could an old man do with a smart phone — I wondered. While it had taken me more than six months to fully understand what iphones could do, he, I was sure, would take a lot longer than that. But little did I know that there was more than one surprise unfolding.
When FIL was handed the smart phone, he didn’t refuse. Most people of that age I know have refused a smart phone. But, he is a different guy. I have seen him use technology — to send emails and to manage a facebook account.
He sat me down on a hot summer morning and asked me in simple words — “teach me”. Initially I was bored. How could someone teach? Smart phones can do all the things that a laptop can, and probably even more. Surely, it was not going to be an easy job.
I started with the basics — how to make phone calls and receive calls. He bombarded me with questions. By the end of that day, he was on Whatsapp.
On day two, he would ask me for lessons on emails. I would teach him and then, he would be on his own. I watched him as he sat on his bed — staring and clicking on multiple buttons of his phone. Occasionally I went to check on him and he would immediately ask, “I have a doubt, how do I use Facebook?” And there, he would have another doubt clarified.
FIL immersed himself in the Apple gadget. Then, the unthinkable happened: he enrolled my mother-in-law to the school of smartphone learning. He taught her, and soon, she was sending messages to that distant uncle in India or the neighbour who now lived in Orlando.
In a few weeks, Skype calls and Whatsapp messages took over their lives. Pictures, videos and voice messages made their way in and out of the phone.
I watched the two heads peer over the phone and discuss about the pictures of grandchildren received. They watched the youngest niece get married, took part in birthday celebrations digitally and somehow managed to connect themselves to everyone in the family.
Then, one fine afternoon, I got a Whatsapp message from FIL. It read, “Ready for lunch?” I smiled at him from across the hallway. I texted back, “Will join you in five minutes.”
I guess, one is never too old to adapt to technology. And, he had done it in a record time of one month.