These days, practically everybody is dependent on motorized transportation. The lucky handful who aren’t are either city-dwellers or people who actually thought Thoreau lived as a hermit for years and was onto something.
Chances are, if you have a driver’s license, you at least know something about cars, or you did at some point (say, between the ages of 16 and 21). Most people retain their knowledge of cars for their whole lives. Some people even learn as they get older.
The point is, if you depend on your car to get from A to B on a regular basis, you probably also have to take care of it on a regular basis. It’s one thing to have mommy and daddy pay for your gas, but it’s another to have them go get it for you because you can’t work a fuel pump without bringing about a situation of clear and present danger.
What if you get a flat tire? Instead of waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for whatever “Roadside Assistance” program you happen to have been grandfathered into, wouldn’t you rather sacrifice your “dignity” for just a moment and change the tire yourself? It certainly doesn’t take between 30 and 60 minutes to do so.
Other things you can and should probably do yourself include changing a taillight (or headlight, or fogcutter) bulb, provided your car still has bulbs and not LEDS, changing spark plugs, and putting air in the tires. Some people even change their own oil, which is admittedly something a professional does faster and less messily 95% of the time. Hell, some people even go filling in dents and dings and touching up scratches!
Do you know how to jump-start a car? Hmm…and yet people look down on the inner-city kids who know how to start a car without keys.
That all said, people who depend on their cars daily know how important it is to keep them in good (or at least passably legal) running condition. That kind of upkeep involves a certain degree of knowledge readily available. A lawyer with a BMW and a plumber with an F-150 are both licensed drivers, and they became licensed drivers in pretty much the same exact way!
Why not computers? Why not smartphones? Why not technology?
You can’t seriously expect to get by without adopting some technological knowledge. It’s called “moving forward.” If you think about it, it’s the same kind of pseudo-logic used by people who stubbornly refuse to use terms like “black” instead of “negro,” or “Asian” instead of “Oriental,” simply because that’s the way they were brought up. Also, PSA: the word “queer” is not an insult, nor is “homo” or “gay.” Technically, neither is “colored,” although I believe the preferred term is “people of color.” Yeah, I know, so many more damn syllables.
Fact: You cannot escape technology. Sorry. You can’t.
How can people still get away with not knowing really, really basic computer stuff? How can someone with a Ph.D still have to pay someone to install an anti-virus program because they can’t do it themselves?
“But there’s no CD drive in my computer!” So? Have you realized how much cheaper certain software is now? That’s because there’s no cost overhead of shit like plastic cases for the plastic discs and plastic wrap for the plastic cases and labor costs for the people who drive the trucks powered by fossil fuels and loaded with nothing but copies of a software program that are actually entirely worthless and of absolutely no use until you “purchase” a string of random alphanumeric characters to make it work.
Hence you now get Microsoft Office the same way you get a few bucks from the lottery if you’re super lucky.
And your home internet connection should be fast enough to download the average *insert category here* program.
Yet…it’s too much to ask. Why?
If it’s so important to you, why can’t you take care of it? These days, many computers ship with utilities that either hold your hand through the “preventative maintenance” process, or else do it for you entirely. And yet people still don’t know what they’re doing.
So they come to me, and don’t like what I say, or how much it will cost, so naturally I don’t know what I’m doing.
So I said “Sorry, I guess I can’t help you. My co-worker will take a look as well, but he’ll probably tell you the same thing.”
“Oh, you want to speak to a manager? Get in line. But since you seem to think so little of my / my co-workers’ knowledge, I doubt you’ll find my manager’s input very helpful, considering he hired us, and he’ll say the same thing I said anyway,” is what I should have said.
Or I should have said something like “The utter lack of respect you’re showing me, a complete stranger, in a public place and in front of your young children is the exact reason people don’t want to allow us to adopt or raise children.” It would have taken a bit to sink in, but it’d work. I’d get fired, but whatever.
You don’t want my services, or don’t want to pay for them, fine. Shut up and leave so I can help the next clueless jerk in line.
Oh…and if you don’t have a warranty, protection plan, or indeed any support plan whatsoever, do yourself a favor and don’t follow up with “this is our only computer and we need it fixed ASAP.” Congratulations, you now look like even more of an ignorant, reactionary twit.
We don’t sell $200/year hardware protection plans because we’re out to leech your money. We do that so that when we have to send your computer to the service center because you dropped it off your bed (again), we only get five minutes of “but why will it take so long?” instead of twenty minutes of “this is unbelieveable, I’m not paying that much.”
Okay. Fix the screen yourself. It’ll take about five minutes for you to realize the amount of time and (skilled) labor involved in doing so, and maybe then you’ll begin to think that it might also not be something that should be rushed, and finally it’ll dawn on you that going to people who are professionals styled as experts and acting like you know better makes you look extraordinarily dumb.
You rely on lights to see, so you know how to change a bulb. You (hopefully) can reset a circuit breaker, replace a fuse, unclog a toilet, temporarily patch a leaky pipe, and so on. Hell, people decide to have babies, and learning to take care of those is like four years of college in nine months.
You rely on cell phones, smartphones, iPhones, laptops, ultrabooks, tablets, desktops, netbooks, and GPS units every day, whether you know it or not. Even if you aren’t car-dependent, your walk or bike ride to work would be much more difficult if the data-driven, sensor-based, dynamically scaled computer systems running the traffic lights stopped working.
It’s kinda sad that there are people who, without a smartphone or tablet or something else to keep them constantly connected (or tethered, or plugged in, or whatever you prefer) would have no idea of the time, date, day of the week, weather, or, really, anything at all. There are probably people who feel like distant strangers to others, no matter what, unless they are Facebook friends.
And yet, even those of my generation who grew up with this technology evolving and maturing as they did themselves are sometimes completely and totally clueless as to how to keep their computers safe, up-to-date, physically clean, and running well. People who wonder why their hard drive is so full but have no idea how to delete things like Firefox Setup 3.5.3 and its two dozen copies because they want to have two windows open at once. People who don’t understand that they don’t have to keep all of their downloaded mp3s in the Downloads folder once they drag them to iTunes, provided they know how to do so. People who don’t understand that the Recycle Bin is not a folder and not a good place to store stuff. People who don’t understand that their anti-virus won’t work unless it and the system on which it’s running are up-to-date. People who don’t understand that Windows Update is not annoying, but often critical even if they “don’t notice any changes.” People who don’t understand that having only one copy of your family photos is as careless as developing them and then discarding the negatives. People who don’t understand that “www.watch-online-movies-now-123.info” is not a better choice than Hulu or NetFlix “because it’s free.” People who don’t understand that the fact that “toolbar” has the word “tool” in it doesn’t mean it’s useful at all. People who don’t understand that “sponsored” downloads aren’t actually ten times faster than what your ISP provides, or that if “trusted” downloads were actually safe, you wouldn’t need a “free trial” to access them. People who doesn’t understand that “DoctorWinRegFixer.exe” is neither a doctor nor a registry fixer, provided they have any idea what a “registry” is. People who don’t understand that if the program you downloaded is trying to install another program you didn’t ask for, you should probably select “No,” as though you invited only Steve to your party and he shows up with some random guys and about five girls of questionable occupation and you happily let them all into your house and are shocked when you wake up to an empty liquor cabinet, an utterly destroyed bathroom, and possibly a subpoena.
You get it?
It’s not acceptable to say you know nothing about computers or technology. It’s even worse when you say things like “omg i just got this iPhone and like i have no idea how to use it lolz,” because then not only do I know you somehow find ignorance entertaining and humorous, but I also have more than adequate reason to question your spending habits, impulsiveness, and self-confidence.
It’s not “cool” to be stupid, and it never was. It never will be, either, contrary to what the creators of Idiocracy humorously envisioned. I understand why it happens, though. People think that if they continuously emphasize their lack of knowledge, or even basic understanding, two things will happen. One – others will be reassured and reminded constantly that you aren’t smarter than they are, heaven forbid, and they don’t want to sound arrogant or *gasp* smart. Two – you’ll ultimately feel bad for them, solve whatever issue for them, and send them on their way with a repaired computer and absolutely no understanding of what broke it, what fixed it, and how to avoid it happening again – just a receipt and a link to a survey to rate the person who helped you because you’re so “technologically retarded.”
Fun fact: Using that particular phrase when opening a conversation with a repair technician who is, in fact, autistic is not starting off on the right foot. You’re not retarded, you’re just lazy. I’m emotionally retarded, if you think about it, but at least I make conscious effort to understand. I make the effort to process your facial expressions, tone of voice, and so on in order to better understand you and communicate like a normal person. You see the phrases “Microsoft account” and “product key” on the same screen and instantly declare you have no idea what you’re doing.
Fuck off. Seriously. The worst part about you people is that we can’t just sigh and tell you to look it up, because you probably can’t use the internet, at least not without crapping up your system with thirty-five different well-known adware and phishing programs. But if we try to teach you, even just basic stuff, then we’re instantly arrogant, know-it-all, smart-ass “kids” (even my one co-worker who is thirty gets called a kid) who are just trying to confuse you with all this technical jargon mumbo-jumbo.
“I’m a lawyer, but I wouldn’t drown you in legalese to make a point!” Okay, that’s nice and all, but what if I asked a specific question? Sure, you could just say “yes, that’s fine,” but you could just as easily say “yes, the right to do/say XYZ is guaranteed under the ABC act, and if someone tried to restrict that, they’d be violating the 56.5th Amendment and you’d be able to sue them for three million dollars.” I’d feel a lot better than if you just said “yes.”
So, what if you follow the instructions in the little pamphlet about Windows 8 instead of whining about “there’s no start button omg wtf how do i open google” and complaining that you can’t use the computer and demand a refund because we won’t just instantly downgrade it (and we would charge you $140 for Windows 7, which by the way we don’t actually sell)?
Or…read the README file of your anti-virus program…or, actually, any program. Microsoft, for example, has about three terabytes of online help documentation, and chances are you can search for your question instead of coming to complain to us about it and then telling us we’re useless, because clearly we are the same thing as Microsoft.
And stop asking why you can’t run *insert program or game* on your Mac even though you downloaded it from the publisher (the “legit” version, if you will) when that *insert program or game* is an EXE and you are using a Mac. And please don’t ask why you can’t use Office on your iPad. Please don’t ask if we can recover data from your SD card because you thought “format” meant “clean.”
And for the love of all that is digital, please please please stop finding excuses to rely on technology you don’t care to understand.