What fun emails can we send my 85-year-old grandfather who is lonely, housebound and has never been on-line before?
August 8, 2010 3:05 PM   Subscribe

My 85-year-old grandfather was just given a 3g ipad. What fun emails can we send him?

My totally housebound 85-year-old grandpa has never been on the internet in his life and has not used a computer more than a handful of times. My uncle just gifted him with a 3g ipad and he is cautiously excited. We don't want to overwhelm him with apps and internet and all that just yet, so my uncle decided we should just focus on the email right now, and if all of us could send him an email every day just so he could get used to it, that would be helpful. Short, sweet, with lots of pictures.

So...what to send? I am wondering if there are websites where you can email someone a funny picture of the day or joke of the day or something. I don't it to be just a listserve where he signs up and gets it auto-sent. I want it to be someplace where we could go, choose something (a joke, a story, a picture, whatever) and send it to him coming from us, the same way you can email news stories.

He used to be a dentist, was at one point very heavily involved in stamp collecting, has pretty much every joke book ever published. I don't think he has much else going on in his life as he pretty much never leaves the house. We just want to stay in touch and have fun things to send him so he can enjoy the email while he learns what else they have out there in Internetland.
posted by JoannaC to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Links to the best wikipedia articles.
posted by phunniemee at 3:11 PM on August 8, 2010

The L.A. Unleashed blog has a category called Your Morning Adorable that features a lot more than cute pet photos (not that there's anything wrong with those!).

Sometimes, I'll block & copy the text and photo of an entire post, paste it in an email, and send it to my dad (he likes nature & animals).
posted by invisible ink at 3:22 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Could you also send him emails about you or your family or your kids? I think he would appreciate stories about things that are happening in your lives just as much as a funny picture.
posted by msbutah at 3:24 PM on August 8, 2010

Response by poster: I do plan to send him emails about my life and such, but my life is not that interesting :) I am single, I work a lot, go out with friends and don't really have much going on :)
posted by JoannaC at 3:32 PM on August 8, 2010

msbutah is right. Even if you think your own life is boring, your grandfather is interested because he is interested in you. Don't force things, but take the time to send him simple bread-and-butter emails about yourself. Remember, he's housebound whill you have that boring job, those boring friends, and all those boring things you do together while he's stuck at home. And, visit.
posted by justcorbly at 3:46 PM on August 8, 2010

Your life might not be interesting to you as a mobile young woman with her life ahead of her, but it's probably very interesting to a housebound 85 year old.
posted by MegoSteve at 3:50 PM on August 8, 2010

I don't understand why you need a joke-of-the-day type site if you are going to manually send it to him anyway. Just find something interesting everyday and send it. He might enjoy stuff from There I Fixed It or some dentist jokes. Look around at the sites with cool pictures, or send something from The Big Picture.
posted by CathyG at 4:03 PM on August 8, 2010

Sorry I just realized I didn't answer your question. I would sign up in an RSS feed to follow some tumblr pages that just grab pictures that people think are funny. If you use Google Reader to do this you can send him an email copy of that straight out of GR. Some sites that might be funny/interesting for him:
Catalog Living
Passive Aggressive Notes
You Are Not So Smart
Sober in a Nightclub
I has a hotdog
Pundit Kitchen
posted by msbutah at 4:10 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you or a family member have access to family pictures from the past that you can scan and send? Cousin Barbara with the huge walleye she caught on Portage Lake in 1968, that kind of thing? I guarantee he'd love that.
posted by zinfandel at 4:14 PM on August 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

What's his vision like? If it's less than great, I bet he'd love The Big Picture blog - you could e-mail him a link to entries as they come in.
posted by mdonley at 4:47 PM on August 8, 2010

One of the best AskMe threads: Dirty Jokes for Grandma
posted by MsMolly at 4:49 PM on August 8, 2010

One thing to consider is how the layout and elements of many websites is so confusing. For example, my mom doesn't understand how people on facebook know when it's your birthday. I know you're just thinking of email at this point, but if you sign him up for third-party emails, maybe you should preview to make sure they're not too confusing. Also, I'd be concerned about spam.
posted by serazin at 5:13 PM on August 8, 2010

nth sending him quick notes about you - that could include anything from as trivial as what you had for lunch to a picture you snapped with your cell phone of the view out your window that day to a link to something interesting you read or seen on the NYT/CNN/MSNBC/etc site. It doesn't have to be a long note - as we've found, you can say a lot in 140 characters!
posted by JaneL at 5:35 AM on August 9, 2010

As a grandfather, I want to assure you that as weird as it may seem to you, he is going to enjoy hearing anything about your life, however boring you think it. If he gets a message from you saying "I had an omelet for breakfast today! Love you, Joanna," he will value it more than the coolest Cool Site of the Day. (Don't forget the love part.)
posted by languagehat at 8:01 AM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

One other thing that I've noticed about some of my elderly relatives whether it's e-mail or Facebook - they respond but don't initiate. In other words, if I e-mail them, they respond and usually quickly because they're eager for the contact, or if they see something I've posted on FB, they will comment or "like". With them coming to computers and the internet so late in life, it's almost like the switch in their brain to start something doesn't get flipped, so don't get frustrated if you see that pattern. It most likely doesn't mean he's not interested in corresponding with you; it just doesn't occur to him that he can write to you first.
posted by JaneL at 1:28 PM on August 9, 2010

Every old meme will be exciting new meme to him. Let the Rickrolling begin.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:46 PM on August 9, 2010

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