Over the holidays, my brother got an iPhone 6S. Naturally, this meant I upgraded my iPhone, too. Conveniently, my dad needed a new phone so my old iPhone 5c did not go to waste.
Now my dad has had a flip phone for the last four years. Before that, he had a non-flip phone. Yes, one of those early 2000s, miniature bricks. He got a flip phone when flip phones were already on their way out.
My dad also doesn't understand the Internet. He calls it "the Google." He doesn't know his email. And one time we had an argument over whether you need an email address to start a business.
Me: "Maybe you don't, but in 2015, no one is starting a business who doesn't have an email address."
Forget explaining data to him.
My dad: "What is wifi?"
I had hope, however, that getting an iPhone might bring my dad up to speed. Or at least to 2010. I told my dad I would help him with his new phone, but he had to do it himself. Gone would be his ignorant days of believing little black boxes made calls, sent emails, and made millennials even ruder than their generational disposition. Knowledge could be his.
We went to lunch before we visited Verizon. At the table I showed him simple features on my phone.
Dad: "Can I make my phone vibrate when it rings?"
Me: "Yes. Yes, you can."
Dad: "And I can get on the internet?"
Me: "Yes, it's really easy. You click that button that says Safari."
Dad: "Now what do I do?"
Me: "At the top you type in the web address or what you want to search. Give it a try."
Dad: "Let me put on my bifocals. Okay, so I just type...D. O. G. Now what?"
Me: "...You hit go. Did you really just search dog?"
Dad: "Look at all these results!"
The magic of Google, everyone.
My dad squinted. "What if I want a specific type of dog? Do I just click on the picture? I don't see a dachshund."
Me: "You need to type in dachshund."
Dad: "It doesn't just show up?"
At the store, I warned the salesperson my dad doesn't understand data, "but my dad would like to switch over to an iPhone."
Salesperson: "Not a problem. Give me one sec."
Me: "Does he need an Apple ID?"
Dad: "What is that?"
Me: "It's like a social security number for your phone. But it's just your email address."
Dad: "I don't know my email."
Me: "Mom wrote it down for you."
We waited for my dad's iPhone to activate. My dad took this time to ask the salesperson if they had a college degree. When they said that did, my dad asked if their degree was in technology.
Salesperson: "Here, your phone is ready."
My dad: *looks at his old flip phone* "But my old phone is still giving me the time."
At home, my dad awed over his new accessory. "So now I can do banking from my phone?" he asked.
Me: "I mean, I don't see you doing that anytime soon, but you can."
Dad: "But if I do, then if someone gets my phone, can they get into my bank account?"
Dad: "And my old phone still works? Like, I could carry it around and use it for a clock?"
Me: "Your new phone can also be used as a clock. And it makes calls."
A couple of hours later, I was at the store when my dad called me. "Hi? Cazey?"
Me: "Hi, Dad."
Dad: "I was seeing if my phone works. It seems like it does. But what if I want to call someone who's not saved in my phone?"
I think he's getting it.