Monday, April 30, 2012

I don't understand why you don't understand

"How do I use Apps? Is there an App for that?"
Is technology making us all dumber–or has it just passed some of us by?  

We've all seen it. You know, when someone seems lost or clueless over the latest technology. It's the first step to fossilization, the first sign of extinction. When technology baffles you and you begin to question it's purpose or value – CONGRATULATIONS! Your place has now been officially reserved at the international museum of the obsolete.

Once you start asking the fatal line of questions; "what the hell does that App do?" or "What in the world do I need THAT for?", just plan to start throwing yourself into the nearest tar pit. When you start rolling your eyes at new social networking Apps, muttering "whatever" at TV ads promoting new gadgets and electronics or when you sigh audibly when a new web site rises in popularity that everyone else knows and loves–and you've never heard of it, that's when you'll know the end is near.

Last fall, I went to visit my Mom and I got her a new digital telephone. I programmed it and got it up and running in no time. While I was there, she wanted me to "take a look" at the combo VCR/DVD Player I got her three years earlier. She said 'it's never worked right' so I went to take a look at it. I soon discovered the problem.

It wasn't even plugged in.

"That smiley-face emoticon is mocking me!!"
I'm not kidding, it felt like I was living the punchline to a bad joke. Once we figured out this bout of rocket science, I then I tried to review with her the details of her multiple remote controls. It took more time than I care to mention and I know she absorbed approximately .08 % of what I showed her.

I won't lie, my brain is still reeling.

How about the people who have iPhones, Droids and other advanced tablets and Smartphones that are continuously amazed at the device's most basic functions. "Wow, it tells you the weather?" Really? Or one of my favorites; "I really don't even use my iPhone/Droid." Why? Why did you even get it? Get off the network and let the rest of us cruise through. We got stuff to do–!

How does one function in a our world where technology is so ingrained? I mean, every event in human history and every ounce of information you could ever need is available to us via the web. We build, maintain and establish relationships with people across the globe right from the palm of our hands and every year the means to do so are better, stronger, faster.
"Now where is the 'ANY' key?"

You can't even apply for better-than-minimum-wage jobs without an emailed PDF of your resume. One-in-four relationships now starts online and you can buy everything from shoes to groceries on your laptop, tablet or iPhone. How can you function in the world without these tools but then turn around and complain bitterly about them? I'm at a loss. Seems like there are three classic choices here; lead, follow or get out of the way.

The conclusion? Bleeding-edge technology is not for everyone. I'm an avid Apple product enthusiast, always have been–there are none better. Yet, every time I visit the Apple store, I see and hear people complaining about how "this stupid thing doesn't work right" and how "nothing happens when I try to go online…" or "I can't get this thing to see my printer!" and always–ALWAYS–the problem is user error.

Every time.

You aren't expected to be a technology genius, but there is Google, YouTube, even (gulp!) the instruction manual. Heck, Apple even provides FREE on-site user sessions on how to use their products. I just don't understand why so many people are so confused when there's so much information available to them. If you don't understand how to learn, please just–just step away.

So here's my take, if you are not plugged in–just stay that way. Seriously, it's okay. Technology is not for everyone. The rest of us have happily moved on without you. Today's tech is more robust, easier to access and more (comparatively) affordable than ever. But if you can't bother reading a 'quick-start' guide or attend a FREE usability class or even bother to plug the damn thing in–please, stop complaining to the rest of us about how worthless the technology is.

Because the rest of us are convinced that the pointless, confused and lost part of this conversation does NOT concern the technology.

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