Patrick C. Keaveny

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“Terrible with technology”

Musings | Tech

A coworker once told me that people who say “I’m terrible with technology” usually have some kind of smirk on their face as they say so. At first I thought that this was probably more due to the fact that people typically joke about their deficiencies instead of their strengths. But the more often I see it, the more I’m convinced that there exists a distrust of technology, and that people are even proud of being “terrible” at it.

Maybe this is age discrimination, but it seems often the case that the older generations are the perpetrators of this kind of behavior more than younger generations. It could be that younger generations simply grew up with technology and so are more used to using it than older generations, but it’s more likely the case that older generations have a deliberate, if unconscious, distrust of all things technology.

You show them how to sign-in to Skype and they still ask you how to do it a week later. You tell them to make sure their Ethernet wire is plugged in before opening a web browser, and they come into your room screaming that their Internet doesn’t work. If you even mention the word “configure”  they say, “you lost me.”

This, to me, is an example of a mental block, a complete distrust of technology that goes far beyond just being “terrible” at it. In some ways, it seems people believe technology is somehow evil, and that to let themselves trust technology means giving into this evil.

It’s also seldom the case that these same people ask me about myself or engage in normal get-to-know-you conversation with me. These same people only talk to me about their technology issues, as if they don’t want to talk to me about anything else.  To them, I’m the “tech guy” and nothing else.

I’m not sure what the root cause of this is, but it’s something that needs to stop. Technology is not evil. Technology is a tool, and human beings are tool-users. Technology is just the modern day equivalent of the spear and trebuchet. It’s a tool to be used, and is not inherently “good” or “evil.”

So stop being “terrible” at it.


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