The New Manners: Should You Change Mom's Default Browser?

More

Perhaps you've encountered this scenario. You hop onto a parent's computer to check your email or do a little work. But, to your dismay, the only browser available is Internet Explorer and (for whatever reason) you don't like Internet Explorer. You download Firefox (or Chrome), then install and launch it. And that's when the drama begins. This confronts you:


Fullscreen capture 7142010 33547 PM.jpg
Of course, you would like to make Firefox your default browser, but do you have the right to mess with your mom's settings? Even if she did stress etiquette (like mine did), nothing in the rule book indicates whether it's OK to change her browser to one you believe is superior. 

This is, I've discovered, a fairly common dilemma. When I posted the scenario to Twitter, I got more than 30 responses in 10 minutes. The advice was all over the map because we're all just muddling along, but eventually some kind of standard answer will develop from the average of the decisions people make.

But who wants to wait for that? In an effort to speed things along, I'm going to blend the Twitter responses I got into a Zagat-style manners rule. There couldn't be a better application of crowdsourcing: What are manners, after all, but community-negotiated norms?

"Yes. It's our responsibility to help our parents figure out technology" and "all the powers of the universe implore you to do so."  Besides, "she probably does not know any better" and "you'll feel better." Just make sure to "import the bookmarks." And you might "give a face-to-face lesson," or say, "I updated your browser to a newer version," or "take the covert route" and "install an IE skin on it." Otherwise "be prepared to get a phone call in the next couple of days about 'what's wrong with the internet.' Don't be dogmatic, though. The "only real moral imperative: update security and scrub malware... good ol' nonextensible, can't f--- it up too badly IE has a lot going for it for tech-unsavvy moms."
So there you have it. And yes, we know there are plenty of tech-savvy parents out there. We're just talking about those other ones here.

Thanks to our Twitter contributors, listed in the order of appearance of their quotes.

@Mica_MON, @eugenephoto, @Kim_Peacock, @ihearttheroad, @amandabee, @eugenephoto, @mat, @baconner, @johnpavlus, @ColinPeters, @tcarmody

Oh, and I'm calling this occasional series The New Manners, but if you've got a better name, let me know.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to a Seaside Town in Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where the Wild Things Go

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Adults Need Playtime Too

When was the last time you played your favorite childhood game?

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In