Saturday, January 01, 2011

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.

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