The Birds and the Beeps

The Birds and the Beeps

I spotted a tweet earlier today by Martha Lane Fox;

“about to face biggest challenge yet – being filmed by bbc showing my father how to use the internet. gulp.”

Martha, as well as being smart and stylish, co-founded  Later, moving from cities to ditties, she started Lucky Voice, the chain of karaoke bars.  I happen to know that the company’s Monday morning meetings begin in style, with each team member having to sing a song. And you thought your week started badly?

Something to sing, if not shout about, is Martha’s work on Digital Inclusion.  Put simply; Getting People Online.  Through the Race Online campaign,  I would argue that MLF has done more for GPO over the last few years than almost anyone else.  If I was dishing out damehoods, she would have to watch out.

MLF and Dad

Back to that tweet…  About Martha and her dad. 

I thought that there was something incredibly warm, positive, gentle and inspiring about a daughter teaching her dad how to use the internet.  The (Not-So-Angry) Birds and the Beeps. 

Dads (and mums) teach us so much.  We should teach them something in return. Not just our own parents.  Just think about how much we could teach other generations about technology (scary word) or the web!  Things which would help them to reconnect with friends or spend time immersed in their favourite subjects.

Really,  we’re the ones who have something to learn.  About the past, yes.  And about the present.  About life, I suppose.  In our rush to have the newest thing, don’t we overlook things which might be as little as a year old?  I know I do, all the time.  Just the other day I opened a book in Waterstones, and put it back down when I saw that it was published in 2009.  Ancient.  With that attitude (I’m guilty as charged) is it any wonder that we overlook not just old things, but old people?  What could they possibly know about today?  Almost everything.  

I remember hearing about a fateful conversation between my uncle, then in his teens, and my late grandfather.  Lowering his voice and inviting my uncle to take a seat, my grandad announced that he wanted to have a chat about the ‘facts of life’.  Nodding, my uncle agreed, saying;

“Sure.  What would you like to know?”

Perhaps my grandfather already knew that he’d left it too late.   Whichever side of the generation gap we’re on, maybe there is never going to be a better time than now, for a conversation about life, learning to use the internet, or just talking about whatever might be next. 

I think I’ve been waiting for a year to come when I can have those conversations.  Learning something, or passing something on, where both of us know that one (in that moment) is teaching the other. 

Martha and her dad have inspired me not to wait any more.

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