Every once in a while, something strange happens that just makes me
shake my head in total disbelief. Well, something so bizarre happened
here at WorldNetDaily the other night that I feel compelled to share it
So, there I was sitting at my desk, scouring the newspapers of the
planet on the Web, looking for news to post in the morning edition of
WND. My phone rang, and that’s when I slipped into “The Twilight Zone.”
When I answered, I pretty much knew right away I was about to deal
with a telemarketer. You can always tell when one calls, because there’s
always a short period of silence on the other end, until some clown
realizes you’ve actually picked up the phone.
A man finally got on the line and proceeded to go through his spiel,
telling me how I qualified for all sorts of special discounts on
“I’m sorry, sir,” I told him. “I read all my newspapers and magazines
There was a brief silence.
“We don’t carry that one,” he told me.
I knew instantly he completely misunderstood me, so I tried to make
it as plain as day for him.
“You don’t understand me, sir. I don’t subscribe to any newspapers or
magazines. I read them all on the Internet.”
“What is the Internet?” he asked.
I was totally dumbfounded, since I didn’t know if this guy was
kidding me, or just living in some kind of a bomb shelter for the last
few years — sort of like Brendan Fraser in that movie “Blast From the
I first thought maybe he just wasn’t hearing me correctly, or perhaps
he was a foreigner, though he didn’t seem to have any accent.
“Sir, do you speak English?” I asked. When he confirmed that he did,
I asked if he lived in the United States, and if so, which state.
Now, I haven’t had many dealings with people in Montana, but I know
the Internet does exist there. I even went to my list of favorite places
on my computer, and told him at least five or six large cities where I
could read online newspapers, and the man said he recognized
Missoulian in Missoula, Mont.
But he did not let up with his question: “What is the Internet?”
It’s a bit unusual for me to be at a loss for words, but I really began to have some trouble finding the right phrases to relay to this man what the Internet actually is. How does one go about describing it to someone who doesn’t have a clue? If only Al Gore were there beside me to help explain his baby.
“When were you born, sir?” I asked, as I tried to gauge a little bit about him.
“In the ’60s,” he answered.
Great, so was I, so I figured we had at least something in common.
“No,” he said, as I sat there with my jaw rugburnt from having dropped to the floor so quickly.
“How about Microsoft?” I asked with a slight sense of desperation.
“Yeah, that’s a computer company, right?” he retorted.
Whew, finally making some progress here. I figured just a little bit more information about him, and I could put the answer into his terms. Keep in mind I am by no means some kind of technical computer geek who knows a lot about electronic hardware. (I’m just your regular kind of geek.) In fact, it was only three years ago that the pond behind my home in Jupiter Farms, Fla., was beckoning me to toss my computer into it. I can’t tell you how many times slow Net connections and utter frustration almost led me to quench the pond’s appetite.
“Do you have a television, sir?” I asked.
“Well, there’s an old black-and-white one in the bus, but it doesn’t really work,” he said.
“The bus?” I asked in a puzzled tone.
“Yeah, I’ve been living in a bus with a bunch of Grateful Dead fans since I was a kid. I also have a cassette player.”
Suddenly, the clouds lifted, and I was beginning to get a clear sense of how it was possible for some people moving into the third millennium to be oblivious to something as ubiquitous as the Internet.
“I really like the Grateful Dead, and also Greg Allman,” he said.
It was then I knew it wouldn’t do any good to get really technical, explaining the ins and outs of e-mail, e-commerce, instant messaging, and research.
So, to the telemarketer from Montana, and to all those not quite sure what the Internet is in the year 2001, here’s a response you might be able to grasp: The Internet is a TV kind of place you can visit with a computer that allows you to groove with the Grateful Dead and Greg Allman any time you wish.
“All right, I’m definitely gonna check into that!”
Maybe I should be the one in marketing.