Saturday, January 01, 2011

Technophobes Unite! And Drive Me Crazy. Part 2 - The eBook Edition

It seems like everyone in the entire world (except me. Um, hello, husband?) got an ebook reader for Christmas. And none of them know how to use it. So they call their friendly local library to get instructions on using their new toys and downloading free books from the library. I do not have an ebook reader (see sentence 1, above), but I can walk them through downloading from our ebook provider online. Why is this? Why do I know how to operate a piece of technology that I've never owned or played with for any substantial length of time and these people can't figure it out?

It's because I'm a Jeeeenyuuuuuus! Just kidding. It's because I have futzed around with enough gadgets to know the basic lay of the land and because I am NOT SCARED. The Nook is not going to suck out your soul if you don't push the right thing. (Or WILL it?) It just confounds me, how these people are so afraid to play! Or afraid to read directions, apparently, since our catalog of digital downloads has an extensive help and troubleshooting section, as well as a very handy "Getting Started" presentation, not to mention I'm pretty sure that the manufacturers make user's manuals, if not in print then online. Come on people! Read and experiment a little!

Also, my birthday is coming up at the end of January. I would like a Nook Color, please. Thanks!

Technophobes Unite! And Drive Me Crazy.

So not only do I man the reference desk, but I also teach computer classes. It boggles my mind how many people still don't know how to use a computer. I have taught many MANY people how to turn the computer on, how to use the mouse, what all those weird buttons are on the keyboard. Satisfying? Yes, of course. It's always nice to empower someone to use or do something new. Frustrating? You betcha.

The main thing that frustrates me is the fear that most of these people have of the computer. I am in my mid-thirties, so I learned computers as they were coming up through the MS-DOS phase, through the introduction to the mouse and now with the touchscreen tablet computers and smartphones. I never took a class, I've just learned new technologies as they have emerged. And yes, a lot of this has to do with my age and the fact that computers have been around for all of my adult life. But my parents both are computer-comfortable, if not completely savvy, and they roll with the punches as new things come out. My dad has a Droid and a Macbook, for crying out loud!

Some people are just afraid of technology. They are afraid of breaking something. A lot of my computer students feel more comfortable when I assure them at the beginning of class that a computer is just an appliance and that they can't break it unless they really really try. I am only frustrated when they stop dead in their digital tracks, frozen like a deer in the headlights because they can't figure out how to get out of a screen or return to the previous page. Try something, damn it! Look at the screen and see what looks like it might get you where you want to go! That big "back" arrow, when clicked, may just take you back to the previous page! And the big red "X" in the corner? May close that screen altogether! PLAY, people! Click around, that's really how you're going to learn and be comfortable.