Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Journey of a Technophobe

Once upon a time I was scared to death of computers. Way back in the 80s, when the shoulder pads were big and the hair was bigger my school began requiring students to have a class in computers in order to graduate. Mind you, young uns who have never known anything but the various incarnations of Windows, we had to type in actual commands to get actual results. I viewed this as significantly less desirable than using a hammer and chisel to make the images I desired appear on the screen before me. All those C prompts and crap looked like abstract things with no bearing on reality, much like algebra and trigonometry, which also escaped my ability to reason.

Random strings of symbols and numbers and letters marching across my screen drove me out of my mind. What was wrong with a good old electric typewriter? Yes, I had conceded an electric typewriter was a darned nice thing to have so as to not require serious bashing from fingers on an old manual model and the resultant hand cramping. Given that option I'd prefer the quill and inkwell, thank you very much. My preferences were not considered in the least by my school administrators though and thus I growled and harumphed my way through the required computing course. I would feel pity for the teacher who was cursed by my dark countenance day after day but he delighted in enhancing my irritation. The more annoyed I became the more amusing he found it. In spite of it all I did like the guy. I just hated the freaking computer.

Then it was on to college as an education major. Again, I was a member of the first class required to have computer training. Again, I was less than enthused. Again I let my unhappiness over this requirement be known. By the time I took the class I already knew my goal was to go overseas and use my teaching skills among folks like you've read about in the recent Trini Tuesday posts. I let the prof know it was the height of stupidity that I had to take this sort of class. In the Third World I'd be lucky to have a blackboard and textbooks. Computers were not going to serve me out in some hut in Africa. I wouldn't even have electricity! He listened to my rant, smiling smugly. When I finished he just said, "It's even more important for you to have training than the others in class so you can be more equipped to provide a good education to your intended students." I cocked my head like a confused puppy and knew he'd taken too big a sip on the Kool-Aid.

When my kids were little and large segments of the population already had PCs in their homes I continued my resistance. I was proud of my lack of computer. Like a hapless red shirt facing the Borg in a Star Trek episode though, resistance was futile. Eventually, I was worn down in my lone stand and we acquired a Mac. I admit I warmed to it when I realized the joy of not needing white-out. I am the Queen of Typos so I went through it at a fairly alarming rate...when I typed...because I generally tried to avoid it...because I needed a lot of white-out. Word processing was a pretty groovy little trick after all. Oh, and I didn't mind playing Solitaire without using the bent up deck of cards with the 8 of diamonds that was missing. Minesweeper was kinda cool too. On this Mac we had an email only (no surfing the net) account and I found I quite liked being able to keep in contact with friends so easily.

I was still absolutely refusing to have anything to do with the Internet though. There were all sorts of weirdos out there on the World Wide Web and what was I going to find there that I couldn't find in the local library? Eventually Mr. Lime wore me down stating that the students at his school found it increasingly necessary to have Internet access for the sake of doing their schoolwork. Fully in touch with my inner curmudgeon, I acquiesced while grumbling about how when I was in school we knew how to use a library and card catalog and actual books and what sort of excessive nonsense this Internet in the home was.

So we got a newer computer and full Internet access and dontcha know there was some pretty neato stuff on that there interwebs thingy. I could find information faster than driving down to the library, which I noticed now had its own computers with Internet access. Hhhm, fancy that. Oooh, and I could read the newspaper from Trinidad. How cool is that? And I could talk to people in chat rooms. Ew, not those kind of chat rooms. There were trivia chat rooms where all sorts of other nerdy people who read the encyclopedia for entertainment would get together to challenge each other with obscure questions about every topic. I mean these people were as nerdy, even nerdier, than I was. They even told me the difference between a nerd and a geek.

Unfortunately, the trivia rooms eventually became overrun by some less evolved lifeforms who called themselves sexxybeyotch16, who had a webcam and wasn't afraid to use it or pradeep, who would send lame IMs to every female in the room or the anonymous cowards, who used to pick fights and spew bile from behind the safety of their monitors. The civilized nerds retreated into blogdom and dragged me somewhat reluctantly. This blogging thing, I dunno, it seems kinda complicated. I don't know if I can manage this sort of thing. What the heck would I have to say and really, who is going to read it anyway?

Yeah, you all know how that turned out. Assimilation complete.



(I'm not advanced enough to do the photoshopping. An old trivia/blog pa, BSoholic did this a long time ago.)

All that said, here's an Eddie Izzard bit on technology that rang pretty true.

22 comments:

Suldog said...

I know the feeling(s). I still don't have the computer at home. The reason is not because I don't think it would be useful, but because I know it would become my overwhelming free-time reducer. But, am I glad about the technology, overall? I guess I'd have to be an idiot to say no. I mean, here I am, enjoying your cyber-company :-) And MY WIFE and I would never have had the pleasure of actually meeting you and yours, if not for these here intertubes. Yeah, pretty cool.

Cocotte said...

I'm the opposite. In 1980, my HS offered Computer Programming as an elective and I was so excited to take it. Me in a 'lab' with 7 computers and a bunch of geeky guys. Good times.

Jazz said...

I'm pretty technology adverse too. But I always come around. Eventually.

I was given a microwave last week. It's still in the box but I will unpack it eventually. And it will sit there all shiny and chromey and maybe I'll actually eventually start using it.

Craig said...

You are a very fetching Borg Queen, my dear. . .

See, I graduated from HS in 1973, and took my first computer class as a college freshman that fall - 'Intro to FORTRAN'. In which the first lab session was how to use the card-punch machine.

Whenever I want to tell 'barefoot-thru-the-snow-uphill-both-ways' stories to the young whippersnappers at work, I tell 'em about punch cards, and how you had to keep your deck all in order, and you edited your program by inserting new punch cards into the deck (yeah, we are talkin' an actual, physical deck of cards). And the horror stories of doctoral students who tripped on the stairs, sending 5000 punch-cards of their doctoral dissertation flying down the stairwell in random order. . .

But I, like you, have generally been half-a-notch slow about adopting the latest technology - Jen and I didn't even own a VCR until almost the new millennium. . . And I first ventured onto the interwebs in 2005. . .

But now I, like you, am fully assimilated. And my dear wife is now being dragged, kicking and screaming, into cyber-space. She just got her very own email account, just last month. It's so cute ("HOW MANY passwords do I need? One just to log on to the computer, and one to connect to the Internet, and ANOTHER ONE to get into my email account?!? And another one for online banking?!?!? But I can't just use the same one for all of 'em, because the bank has different 'password rules'?!?!? AAAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!!!!)

And of course, once Eddie turns his printer on, he's got 132 copies of his print job queued-up and spewing forth. . .

Craver Vii said...

"There were all sorts of weirdos out there on the World Wide Web..."

Mwaaaa ha ha haaaaa...

lime said...

suldog, i only just now read your comment after leaving my own at your place about what a delight it was to meet you and YOUR WIFE!

cocotte, so there was a method to your madness, eh?

jazz, LOL, ok, i adopted the microwave pretty early on.

craig, ah yes, i haven't used the punch cards but i've read of them. as for the scattered doctoral dissertation....YIKES! i can only imagine the heart stopping experience that would be. i can empathize with your wife on the password thing. that does drive me a bit nuts too. I discovered that eddie vid right after i fixed a printer issue and had half a ream of paper shot at me at high velocity.

furiousBall said...

whoa... what a hot Borg

lime said...

craver, go ahead and snort...yes, i am one of those weirdos and just to let you know...my family refers to my online pals as "freaks in the box," which is a term adopted from another FITB i've known a long time.

furiousball, thanks!

coopernicus said...

i gave up my wierdo status last spring...

S said...

My computer thing started when I broke my leg when Hannah was three. My dad gave me a very old computer complete with Tetris!
Then I discovered trivia madness and you know the rest.

But, I just ran over to the mirror and looked, and, I dont have those little bumpy things or hair snakes all over my head, and my skin is still pinkish tan, and I dont attach my clothing to my skin with clip things...
I don't know why that hasn't happened to me. There's just one problem, my right hand is permanently curved into mouse formation.

What would cyberspace be without our Lime?

Moannie said...

Paco closed down on me yesterday, I said 'closed down', so this was a very funny and timely post. Had a good laugh and loved loved loved Eddie. I listen to him sometimes on late night radio but it 'aint the same...you have to watch him to get the jokes.

Craver Vii said...

Oh, but we are not just any run of the mill freaks in any o'l box, but we're your freaks in your blog. And that is enough to keep these freaks happy. :-)

secret agent woman said...

I refused to learn to use a computer in college because I didn't see the need. Ha!

for a different kind of girl said...

Lady, that is some far better Photoshopping than I could ever pull off...and I've taken classes. That's right. PLURAL!!

Hilary said...

I resisted it for a while too.. and played trivia in IRC (still do occasionally) and wondered what I could possibly blog about... it seems this is a common thing at which to look back and snort. :)

Beach Bum said...

All those C prompts and crap looked like abstract things with no bearing on reality...

And Bill Gates is still laughing his way to the bank.

Craver Vii said...

Australian etymology. Who'd a thunk?

Cricket said...

Yep. I'm with you. (I believe we're the same age, give or take a month.) I loathed learning Basic and Pascal. Of course, it wasn't that I didn't see the point of computers, I just figured I'd rather wait 'til they could speak English.

Remember all the work it took to write a program that would alphabetize a list? Ugh. I had a feeling that the good stuff was right around the corner. Or at least stuff that didn't demand so much effort from me for so little reward.

I still don't see the point of constant upgrades, though. If it ain't broke....

Logophile said...

FITB!!

:p
As the default technophile in this household my history is somewhat different, but interwoven here and there.

Pretty lady please for top chat?
hee hee
Blogworld has it's challenges but they are somewhat more mannerly, typically.

pihlajjo said...

Resistance was SO futile.

And, once embraced, hasn't technology been just the passport--to teach and reach people all across the world with your posts?

~Tim said...

FITB - I resemble that remark! Wonderful post and I enjoyed Eddie too.

snowelf said...

I swore I would never blog. NEVER! Why would I put my life on line? Especially my personal private life for God and everyone to see? That sounded ridiculous.

Then, in my safe place where I wrote with my friends about the struggles of single parenting and dating, some uber judgemental religious lady had started chastising single mothers for wanting to get laid.

So I left that board and I read one of the other mom's blogs. And then another. And they made me laugh. And I made some of the best friends ever. And I was hooked ever since.

--snow