Archive for June, 2011

Ignorance is Romantic

Not everyone is a computer person.  There’s nothing wrong with that – not everyone is literate, not everyone can walk, or do basic addition and subtraction. There’s certainly no shortage of groups that offer rehab, classes and therapy to help those who want to overcome these basic disabilities and access a better quality of life.

But what do you do about this person: “Haha, I guess I’m just not a computer person”.  Every time these words pass someone’s lips there’s a kindergarten teacher somewhere that cries. It’s the “haha” that does it.  Imagine the scene: the harried tech bending over the keyboard to fix a problem for the nth time, while the bemused end user insists they just don’t know what happened.  Asking for help if a wonderful, important thing, but asking for help without the intention of preventing the situation next time is a bizarrity in this age where we claim to count our seconds.

In no other sphere could this happen: You might be a great lawyer but if you can’t read then Davis Polk & Wardwell probably isn’t hiring you.   If “Haha, I can’t use basic tools” has somehow become an acceptable phrase in polite company, and not, say, a grave embarassment for which you should seek help immediately,  what’s the point of even living in a first world country?

I blame the history of nerdiness in the U.S. for this one: Up until the arrival of smartphones knowledge of technology was considered a little taboo.  It was fine for awkward boys with nothing better to do on a Saturday night, but heaven help you if it came up over a martinis (or worse, if you let it come up while under the influence of being  femaleEgads!).

Technical ignorance is ‘Proper’ with a capitol P – the dangerous kind of ‘Proper’ that applies to white weddings and burkas.   There’s a feeling that there’s something cute,  delightful even, about being helpless in the face of the most predominant appliance in the world besides the wheel.   While the arrival of the iphone has lifted some of the stigma, if you’re good-looking it’s still considered safest to ask someone else to  change the settings rather than attempt it yourself.

So beware the “Haha” –  it signifies a person proud of their hangup who isn’t planning to do anything about it any time soon. You know who I’m talking about.


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