People don’t know how to use computers. Its a sad reality. The above statement might seem comedic, but the amount of times I have heard something similar leads me to believe that this is how people think. I have heard this statement (or similar ones) from friends, family and strangers. In this day and age, its perfectly acceptable to proudly boast that you have no idea how computers work, and everyone around you pats you on the back, gives you a medal and directs a knowing smile to their teenagers or local IT guys. But tell those same people you don’t know how a car works, how a plane flies, or even how a oven heats and you get balked at. Surely you jest! These are devices one must master in order to be a productive member to society. Guess what? Computers are even more so.

You lost your work because an error message popped up, but instead of reading it you clicked OK. And now your computer is restarting for updates. Your fault – not the computer.

You used all the paper in the printer because you told the computer to print 104 copies instead of 014. Your fault – not the computer.

You cant read PDF’s because you didn’t read the license agreement and instead called up helpdesk because your computer is broken and displaying all this text. Your fault – not the computer.

Computers are graphical displays of text. Sure we have pretty graphics and smooth animations, but those pretty graphics are wrapped around text, telling you that your laptop battery is running low and to please plug it in or you will lose your work. Its not a race to the OK button. It doesn’t mean your computer has stopped working. It means that you need to read what its saying. Simple. If people read what the computer said, 90% of all computer problems would disappear.

The sad truth is that these days, no one knows how to use computers – no not even your teenage son who spends all his time texting. Younger people are not computer whizzes. Technical genius is an often misused term when describing anyone under 30. And the blame lies completely with the education system, the IT dad or husband and the IT helpdesk. You see, instead of telling the user that the recycle bin is no place to store files, they just fix the problem. There is no user training. Or people try to be too nice and just blame the computer. Instead of saying “Yeah these machines are fickle and will delete the items stored in the recycle bin at will” what we should be telling them is “If you put stuff in the recycle bin, it will get deleted first. You could have prevented this if you read the name – recycle bin / trash / file deleting monster.”

If I see you blame Windows 8 / Linux / Mac for you not reading instructions, I will assume you will be better off placed in a room with no sharp instruments so you cant harm yourself. And even the wit of this post will have been something on which you could cut yourself with.

/rant

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