I used to think of myself as fairly competent with my computer skills. I have, through the years, worked in various offices and positions which required heavy dependence on computers. I would start the job and, quite easily and confidently, learn a variety of software programs to a fairly high level of functionality. I worked myself through college as a medical transcriptionist and prided myself on my 75 words-per-minute typing speed and my proficiency in WordPerfect and Microsoft Word. That was then.
Is it just me or have computers in general and software programs in particular become more difficult? Or is it just that my brain cells have packed up and taken residence elsewhere, rendering me cereberally challenged? I seem to encounter more issues with breakdowns and meltdowns than I used to. (Computer-wise, and otherwise.) When I have computer issues, I can no longer find the answers I need. In days of old, I'd open up the handy-dandy manual and find the instructions I needed right at my fingertips. Now with these Advanced and Wonderful online manuals I can find squat, and never when I need it most.
I am fortunate to have my very own help-desk line, connected by telephone directly to my sister. She patiently answers my questions and comes to assist me in my distress. She frequently shakes her head at my ignorance ("Um, turn on the power strip and you'll be all set"). She is always happy to help in my crises, yet the gleam of superiority clearly radiates in her eyes. As well it should- she went to a geek college, majored in information systems, and has been employed for the past ten years for a software company. She bears the title Geek Girl with pride and confidence.
Unfortunately other technical equipment poses the same challenge for me. My cell phone, for instance, still isn't being used to its full potential because a) I don't know what its full potential is, and b) I wouldn't be able to figure out how to use that potential if I knew. I was happy to find that I am not the only one in this position. In Ohio recently, my sister-in-law, Diane, seemed to experience this. Our thirteen year old niece, who does not have a cell phone herself, took possession of Diane's and in the span of about two minutes and twenty-five seconds, had it reprogrammed with a new ringtone, had figured out how to take photos, placed one on the display as a screensaver - complete with a cutesy caption- and had taken a short movie of herself. Diane and I seemed to be thinking the same thing: remember when phones were just phones? And when the heck did kids become so techno-saavy, leaving us to feel like complete and utter idiots?
My digital camera is mostly a mystery to me. Sure, I can open the lens and snap photos. But I still don't know how to transfer those images to the computer. I could read the manual, of course, but haven't gotten around to it. It just hasn't seemed that pressing to me. Besides, why take the time when I can have Bryan download them (or upload them or whatever type of loading needs to be done). And after the aforementioned images are on the computer, I don't know how to resize, manipulate, or otherwise edit them. And, I wonder, what's the point of all that effort anyway? I feel like a techno-idiot. But the thing is, it just seems easier and quicker and more tangible to take the film to Target and have them process it into nice, glossy photos that I can hold in my hands.
Clearly I need to learn these things. The twenty-first century is already passing me by and leaving me in the technological dust. The world has become so advanced, so digitally-minded, so....complicated. I'll get over it and adapt. I will, I tell myself. But then I see these gadgets and gizmos and think, "WHY?" I don't seem to truly see the need. Bryan is more perceptive of the necessity to stay current. But then he also kept referring to a Blackberry as a "blueberry thingy," so I don't know if either of us will ever really "get with it".
I am trying, though. I have lots of old photos I want to utilize so I'm actually looking at scanners, and this increases my desire to learn photo editing software. And I have resolved to stop referring to those wretched online help programs as "crapware support". And, I am quite proud of the fact that I haven't had to utilize the sisterly help-desk in well over a month.
Yes, I'm coming along. Look out, twenty-first century, I'm on the loose! There just may be no stoppin' me now. I'm sure my sister isn't holding her breath, though.
copyright 2005 Valerie Schneider