Are you guilty (along with about 75% of the population over 65) of uttering nonsense like this?
“Oh, I’m hopeless with computers.” “I’m a digital dinosaur.” ” I’m useless with IT.”
Stop it, right now.
You’re anything but hopeless. You’re reading this, aren’t you? That means you are successfully using a computer or another device which is also a computer. (Unless you printed it out.)
When the Director General of Health delivers a report on the medical, practical and economic complexities of Covid-19, do you say, “Oh, I’m hopeless at pandemics”? No?
When you get into a car, do you say, “Oh, I’m hopeless at cars. I prefer to walk”? No?
We’ve had more than a hundred years to get used to the fact that when you buy a car, you don’t need to be an instant and complete and permanent and infallible expert on all things related to cars. In the olden days we did need to know how to change a tyre, replace a broken fan belt with a stocking, top up water in the radiator and so forth, and lots of people knew how to change the oil and replace spark plugs. With a modern car, we wouldn’t know where to begin. We drive cars, ride in cars, park them, and take them to the experts for servicing.
Computers are way more complicated than a self-contained tin can on wheels (even if said tin can contains its own computers) yet the moment we hit a problem, there’s a tendency to think: “It’s my fault. I should be able to fix this. I’m hopeless at computers.”
Then, as long as we’re at work in a reasonably sized office, we call the IT team. Fine! That’s their job. You can’t do their job, and they probably can’t do yours.
Computers in lockdown: no IT team
Yet strangely, when you’re at home in lockdown you revert to thinking, “It’s my fault, I should be able to fix this, the solution must be obvious to anyone except a complete ninny.”
The solution is rarely obvious, or you would have spotted it. But it’s often findable if you search and search again. And certainly, familiarity breeds familiarity, and practice makes… not perfect, but better. Don’t give up before you begin. You are a person capable of learning all sorts of things. A computer is just another thing.
And it’s not your fault. All usability problems are problems in the offending item, not the person innocently trying to use it.
So please, please stop saying you’re useless at computers or you’re a digital dinosaur. It’s just an old cliche that has a life of its own, a stupid meme. Or at least stop saying it to me.
- I don’t believe you.
- It’s a cop-out.
- It’s a self-fulling prophecy.
- This meme started in the 1980s and I’m sick and tired of it.
And if you attribute your “uselessness” at computers or the internet to the mere fact that you are over 50 or 60 or 70, I will start foaming at the mouth.
Who do you think invented the internet and the web? People who are now in their 20s or 30s or 40s?
You are very good at using computers
C’mon. You are way better than that. Just think of all the activities that you do successfully engage in with a smartphone, tablet or computer. Celebrate! You’re already a Stirling Moss on your digital device. Be happy. And don’t fret.
Yes, we all have computer problems and they can be very annoying. However, we can choose not to get our knickers in a twist, and instead find a video, the provider, a group, an expert to help. And otherwise, do what you do so well — you are so ingenious — and find a workaround.
Should I even publish this rant?
Aaargh. I’m usually so nice, aren’t I? But we all have a breaking point.
Now in lockdown, more than ever, I see people who used to self-categorise as hopeless-with-computers suddenly take off. Today, I see one on Twitter! Another is reading bed-time stories to grandchildren on What’s App! Another has started getting library books online! Using Skype, even hosting on Zoom or MS Teams!
After one hour’s training, it took four people in the Parkwood Village in Waikanae (including my sister) only two weeks and two days to train enough residents to have their first of many twice-weekly Zoom meetings which now have around 25 participants. Suddenly, with lockdown it was necessary, and so it was done.
So this is a golden opportunity to learn something new in a big hurry, or to invite someone to use a new app — because right now we need different ways to connect and to create and write and entertain ourselves. Go for it, and have fun.