Twenty-something technophobes

I’ve always been a fairly middle-of-the-road in my adoption of technologies. There was always a computer in the house when I was growing up, for which I’m phenomenally grateful: if it wasn’t for that, my technological enthusiasm wouldn’t be what it is. But despite a healthy start, I’ve never been at the fore-front of what’s going on, technologically speaking. I’ve always hung back slightly, waiting to see if something works on a basic level before jumping aboard. Or at least, I never used to be, but as time progresses, I feel like I’m changing for the better, adopting earlier. But, maybe it just appears that way because my peers aren’t adapting in the same way as me… 


Before I go on, it’s worth being aware that this is something that really gets to me: twenty-something technophobes. We’re a generation revered to be the first that have grown up with tech, savvy with digital communication, comfortable with computers. Let me tell you, though: it’s a huge myth. Certainly amongst my friends – though most can log-on to a PC and knock out a rough spreadsheet or document – I can think of quite a lot that are just awkward about the whole idea of technology. But, there’s not enough space for me to jump down your throat about everything here, so let me start with something tech-lite: social networking. 


There are a dizzying number of sites knocking around that let you live your social life (partially) online, and you don’t need me to list them for you here. It’s probably fair to say that Facebook has become almost requisite, so I’m tempted to discount that in this argument. After all, I know people that use it over their email (I mean, why?), and one friend felt she had to start using it as to not bother was to the detriment of her social life. So, people do use Facebook, granted. But, certainly amongst the friends I choose to socialise with, there appears to be a reluctance to become involved with any other social networks, and there’re a couple of recurring in motifs in their reasoning. Allow me to guide you through them. 


1. Social netoworking is a waste of time. “I’ve ignored twitter on pretty much the same grounds as I stopped using Google chat: it’s just another inane way of wasting my time.” I paraphrase a number of people, but as they see it, extra forms of communication are a waste of time. Why they see other media – email, text messages – as wasting less of their time is quite beyond me. These people are happy to send trivial, jokey email, rich with links, pictures, video and audio; quite how they’re fooling themselves that doing it via Twitter would be a bigger waste of their time is beyond me. I mean, if they opened their eyes for long enough to learn what a retweet was, they might even see that they might waste less time if they used Google Buzz, or Twitter or whatever, to send these links. They might even entertain more people, and make new friends along the way. But, sorry, my mistake, it’s a waste of time, isn’t it? My last thought: please don’t suggest to me that something’s a waste of time if you’ve never even used the fucking thing, as you simply do not know. 


2. Social networking is just weird. “I don’t like the idea of talking to people online.” A couple of points to cover here: firstly, you do it all the time already. You use email, Facebook, you’ve probably grown out of using MSN Messenger but you used to; you live in a world where digital communication is taken for granted, and you take it for granted too. The fact that you see other streams of digital communication as weird is entirely irrational, and if you use email, you have no argument to counter with. Secondly, what type of backward looking Luddite are you? If you’d been knocking around at the same time as Alexander Graham Bell, you would probably have told him that “speaking over a wire – it sounds a bit funny to me”. And yet, actually, being called a Luddite probably harms your delicate, hummus-eating, guardian-reading sensibilities, doesn’t it? Mmm, shame. Maybe if you try new communication methods out, you might realise it’s just the same as every other digital technology you use. Really. 


3. Web 2.0 leave me cold. “I don’t know how Web 2.0 I am at heart.” Hmmm, an odd one this. You see, I’m partly in agreement: Web 2.0 is a marketing ploy (ooh, isn’t he cynical), so on that technicality, I’d agree. However, as far as I can tell, this is a non-excuse. It’s rather like suggesting to me that you don’t like mackerel because you don’t know how Omega-3 you are at heart: here’s something great and perfectly useable, but I don’t like this new fancy branding, sorry. Reinforcing this, i was given this excuse over Twitter! Anyway, as I say, I include this reason more for my own amusement than anything else. 


4. Social networking scares me. A last minute entry. Oooh, magic box in corner of room, it light up, it show me picture and word from other side of world. Oooh, werido want to talk to me with it. Must be a peado! The Sun say so. Get over it. 


You might have the impression that I run around, banging a big drum, shouting “LUDDITE!”  loudly in people’s faces until they join tumblr. I don’t, I promise (or at least, not that I can remember). But, I don’t take well to silly, petty little excuses about not using new technologies. Certainly, do not talk about something being unsuitable before you’ve even tried it. Do you listen to people who claim not to like, I don’t know, falafel, if they’ve never eaten it? Of course you don’t, they’re stupid. And maybe so are you. 


Phew, glad that’s over. Coming up in future instalments: ‘Why bother Googling something when you could just ask someone stupidly trivial questions and waste their time?’ and ‘Can you help me set up my printer, only, I’ve never done it before so I might break something’. 



4 Responses to “Twenty-something technophobes”

  1. 1 SmallCasserole March 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Software is deeply unnatural in it’s metaphors, and we often fail to appreciate this when we think about uptake. I think quite a lot about social media because I’m trying to encourage my colleagues at work to use it more (so we can get on and do our job better and more easily). It’s a serious uphill struggle.

    I like the gentle introductions that social media can give you, it’s not like walking up to a stranger in a bar. My mum does think you’re all paedophiles though!

  2. 3 Jamie March 16, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    @SmallCasserole Fair point. Do any software implementations seem more natural than others, I wonder? So many are broadly the same — maybe there’s a market for something that makes feel more comfortable?

    @Alice Cheers for that. Looks like the politically correct, substantiated version of what I said. 🙂 Will read it properly at some point.

  3. 4 SmallCasserole March 17, 2010 at 9:09 am

    @Jamie ultimately with software we’re often trying to do an abstract thing, so it’s difficult to make the interface intuitive. If you look at the way people use twitter many clearly don’t appreciate much beyond “Type in box, press tweet” and it’s not because they’re stupid.

    (Funnily enough, I’m pretty happy with software I think because I program. Old-style video recorders, the controller for our boiler,and standard mobile phones I can’t be bothered to deal with)

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