One day, my 17 year-old strolled into the kitchen after a long day at school, leaned against the kitchen counter and, between mouthfuls of food to appease his growling stomach, said, “Hey mom, did you know that the Pope has Twitter?”
“So, I hear,” I replied absentmindedly while chopping vegetables for dinner.
“Do you have Twitter, Mom?”
“No. Why do I need Twitter? Do you have Twitter?”
“Mom,” he sighed with exasperation, “everybody has Twitter. You should get it.”
“Son,” I replied with a look that said I-am-your-mother-do-not-condescend-even-if-you-are-a-foot-taller-than-I, “I don’t need it.”
“Look, here’s the Pope’s first tweet. I started following him today.”
The truth is, I didn’t understand it. How to access it. How to use it.
“It’s easy, Mom,” sighed my confident high school senior. “Where’s your phone?” Before I knew it, I had a Twitter account.
When I was in first year university, I took a one semester course called Introduction To Computer Programming. This was back in the day when we had to use IBM punch cards to write our program and line up for hours in the computer lab to use the big IBM mainframe computers. My first assignment came back with a hand-written note from the prof: You should consider taking a different course. Ouch!
In the early 90’s, the hospital where I worked became computerized. Everything from lab reports, supplies, and requisitions had to be accessed on-line. I had to leave my kids with my in-laws and drive through heavy snow on my day off to learn how to use the new computerized system.
It took me all day, and a few frustrating experiences on the unit but eventually I got the hang of it. By the time I left hospital nursing, everything was on-line: documentation, doctor’s orders, medication administration pumps, monitors, everything. I was always checking, double-checking and whispering a little prayer under my breath to make sure I pushed the right button or clicked on the correct icon. Sometimes, I felt that using the computers and temperamental monitors was more stressful than caring for patients and their families. Even now in my work, I sometimes have to access medically-related apps on my phone as well as the GPS. Computer program keep track of the administrative side of my business. My oldest, journalist son set up that side of the business with that characteristic, mom-I-can’t-believe-you-don’t-get-this test of patience. He also set up my blog.
So, when my lanky, tech-savvy son dragged me kicking and screaming deeper into cyber-space, all I could think was, “What do I do with this?” I’m slowly getting around to playing with my Twitter account and am pleasantly surprised that I have a handful of followers. Likewise, I follow a small number of people. I probably won’t be someone who is constantly checking who’s tweeting what, but for now, I’ll check in every once in a while. I can only marvel that Pope Benedict has over 2.1 million followers.
What I’ve learned from my cyber adventures is that perseverance, especially when born of necessity, pays off. That even decidedly untechy “older” moms can fumble their way through the digital age. That the human brain has a great capacity for continuous learning. That my kids think I’m ancient. That my 17 year-old is an unlikely evangelist leading his mom. That @Pontifex has embraced the new media for evangelization and so can I. So can we.