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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Computer Illiteracy Amongst Middle Aged People Is Scary And Funny

Computer illiteracy will make you a dummy.
Las Vegas has always ranked high as one of the most "wired" cities in America. That's one of the reasons I loved living there. Everyone seemed to have a computer and knew their way around a computer. Las Vegans were always running around updating hand-held devices to make meetings, schedule parties, and add new contacts. However, in the Midwest, computer illiteracy amongst middle aged people is scary and funny

For years, I had problems reaching friends and family back in Ohio when I lived in Las Vegas. Why? They still weren't sure about getting cell phones. I had a hard time sharing things I liked with friends in Ohio because they either didn't have a computer or had a computer and didn't have an email account.

I still have friends that have never owned a computer and/or have a computer and refuse to use email.

Most of them are middle aged. And I get the sense that this computer illiteracy is not limited to my friends and family.

This is an absolute true story, I cannot make up something like this. At Dunkin Donuts, there are signs in the windows that say, FREE WiFi. Do you know what that means? If not, then this article is about you. Well, at DD, they have one of those signs on the glass of the drive thru window. A guy actually drove up and asked, "Can I have the free Wifi? Can I get that with cream and sugar?" None of us there could stop laughing for half an hour.

My Dunkin Donuts friends are generally older than me and they look at me and my laptop as if I'm some kind of mad scientist. When they found out that I could research answers for the contest that DD was running by using the magical power of  - GOOGLE - they were in awe. "What's this googie thing?" I tried to keep it a secret so that my social position would rise and my mastery of a search engine might be able to get me a few free coffees and donuts in the future. My plan has worked. They are still in awe.

Today, a guy was reading an article on my blog and the worde WiFi came up again. He said to me, "What is Wee-Fee?" That was Fred Sanford's first wife. I mean, what do you say to that? I explained and he seemed to get it.

Wireless communications to some people around here is like Voodoo. "How do you get on the Internet from here?" Ah... the great and powerful Bill Gates is floating above the earth and signals are bounced off his belt buckle. The problem is, I think a lot of people might accept that answer as truth.

My white Mac iBookG4 has an Apple logo right on the back of the monitor. Apple's logo is one of the most recognizable in the world. It's there, plain as day. I've had people sit right in front of me, 8" away from the logo, and ask me, "That's a Dell, right?"

Another thing the computer illiterate do is tell you about their programmer niece or nephew and how we should hook up because "you two are both into computers." I own a Mac because I didn't want to know anything about computers. I wanted to use it. All I do is write insane blog posts, have fun busting balls on Facebook and pump my articles out on Twitter to targeted groups. I don't know how many Megs or Rams or PRams are in this thing. I turn it on, I type, I press send - I'm done.

Trying to get me to hook up with an IT guy is insanity. That's like trying to hook up a guy driving a rusted out Chevy and the Space Shuttle commander "because you both drive something."

This incident has nothing to do with computers but it does show how ill prepared our high school kids are. I was buying a lot of things at Target in Las Vegas. I mean, A LOT - three carts full. The girl ringing up all of my items was a local high school graduate. She asked, "What do you do? (I traded stock options from home) I told her I worked in the Stock Market. She says, "Great, where is that?" I told her it was right down the street. We have daily specials, you ought to come in. "Great, I'll have to look for it. Sounds really neat." And I had to wait six years for Charlie Sheen to say, "DUH!"

Face the facts, we live in a world that requires knowledge of technology. I really don't have to tell you that, you obviously have a computer and you're probably a genius because you chose to read my blog over the billions of other pointless, misspelled, illiterate blogs out there. But you may have friends that think they can get away with "technology aversion" - you can try, but you will die in this world.

My 10 year old daughter is more computer literate than 90% of my friends and family. Why? Because I never underestimated her ability to learn. I taught her how to write email. I taught her how to add attachments to an email. She knows how to copy and paste URLs into messages and Instant Messages. She can make movies and put them on YouTube. She's known that since she was 7 or 8. I can't tell you how many adults can't do half of that stuff. It's not hard. You just have to spend a little time to figure it out and then put it to use.

I'm sure there will still be people trying to order the FREE WiFi at drive-thru windows around town and people will be wondering what Wee-Fee is, and even more won't have an email account - can't help them. They need to get on the train. Believe me... I don't even want to try and tell them that I'm on Twitter - that would mess them all up.

Yes, computer illiteracy amongst middle aged people is scary and funny.


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