From trying to hyperlink an ad in print, to believing an air freshener is a router, people share the one red flag that makes someone technology illiterate.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
They panic at the sight of every pop up window on the computer, even innocuous ones like reinstalling the printer hubs or something.
This is my coworkers. They’re at the point where they don’t even read the message, they just call me screaming “Help! Something is wrong!”
Nothing is wrong. Just hit the accept button.
They see an ad banner that warns their computer might be at risk. They click on said banner and download the software, which scans the computer, finds 37 bad things and asks them to pay $$$ to solve the issues. Fortunately, they have the good sense to email their child and ask if it’s legit before handing out their credit card number.
Repeat every few months.
“Do you know where the address bar is on your browser?” “Yes. I’m not stupid” “type this in the address bar on your browser then” – sound of typing- “which link do I go on?” – So you’ve managed to google that and not use the address bar at all then? Happens all the time in my job.
People in my work reporting bugs.
Embeds screenshot as object in Word
Emails unviewable 3MB Word document to me instead of 30KB jpeg.
“Which one is chrome?” “How do I get to Netflix again?” “Where does the mouse go?” “But it said to download it and it would make my computer faster!
“Hello yes, my computer is making a beeping noise.”
“A beeping noise, like how many beeps and what pitch?”
“Here let me put the phone up to it.”
“Oh ok, ummmm, that sounds like the noise it makes if someone is holding a button down on the keyboard.”
“Well there’s a book on the keyboard.”
“Hmmmm, try picking the book up.”
“HEY IT STOPPED – YOU FIXED IT!!”
“hah! ok have a nice day.
When they stare at the keyboard and peck at the keys then stare back at the monitor to make sure it’s right after every key. Worst part is when they make a mistake, they delete the entire word and start the pecking all over again. Peckers are the worst.
I re-installed Windows for a friend once. I had the laptop working smoothly before giving it back to her. When I saw her again a few days later and asked how it was working, she told me it had stopped working after she had tried to “install Office” on it. Okay. I asked her for the Office disc that she used. She gave me the Windows disc.
I work in web development. I had a client once who was just livid — berated me to no end — when I told her I couldn’t take the hyperlinked words from her website, copy them over to her print ad, and still have them function like a link.
There’s no red flag here, no low-key mark by which a savvy observer can infer some deeper truth. Technically illiterate people have shining beacons of tech ignorance. Mostly they don’t know what anything is called, and so they don’t know what you’re talking about.
“Which browser were you using”
“And what did you type in the address bar?”
“The what? I just typed what you said to type.”
“What do you mean, where’?”
My ex girlfriend used to pull out her computer’s power plug while it’s on in order to turn it off, I’m a software engineering student so this drove me insane! When I asked her why she turns it off this way she told me she was convinced that this way was “better” without providing any further reasoning behind her logic. I tried explaining to her that what she was doing was bad for her computer and provided reasons to why it was bad, she wasn’t convinced at all and still believed her method was better. That relationship didn’t last long.
Installs apps and browser extensions from unreliable sources.
“I can’t get a virus because…”
Never modified the configuration of a program.
Copies files by opening and saving them from a word processor (actually saw that many times).
When you ask them to “Log Off” of their computer, and they Restart or Shut Down instead. Being in IT, this is infuriating. What I could have fixed in 5 minutes remotely while on the phone with you is now going to take (at least) an additional 5 minutes of us awkwardly sitting on the phone together waiting.
I work IT for the state and we oversee various different offices and agencies, one of those being the state cemetery. Each agency has their own smaller IT department, but we oversee and assist those departments. They were having issues connecting to the WiFi and we were tasked with helping them resolve the issue. After emailing back and forth to resolve the issue to no avail I went over to the location to assist in resetting the router. I asked their “IT” person to show me the router and he walked me over to an outlet and said “I know how to reset the router but it’s still not working”. He was attempting to reset an air freshener.
So I guess mistaking an air freshener for a router would be a red flag.
New Project Manager consultant raises hand during meeting about a development project. “Sooo… when you are talking about software packages, you aren’t talking about a real package, like a birthday present type package, right?
Them: “There’s nothing on my monitor.”
Me: “OK, is your computer on? There was a power outage last night.”
Them: “The monitor has a little orange light on it.”
Me: “Right, but is the computer on? We lost power for a long time last night.”
Them: “You mean I have to turn the computer on? How am I supposed to do that?”
Me: “The large box-shaped thing next to your desk has a power button on the front of it. Just press that.”
Them: “Oh… something’s happening. Ok, looks like it coming on. I didn’t know I had to turn the computer on. Thanks.”
Me: “No problem.
They have no idea what on the computer they’re not good at, but if it appears on a screen it’s baffling to them and they’ve never bothered to actually learn how to do it. Even if the process is identical to something to do in the real world every single day, for some reason adding a mouse and a keyboard to it makes it black magic.
Every single time we visit my mother-in-law we have to help her with a new task related to the computer, whether it’s getting pictures from the phone onto there or checking her email or setting up an iTunes account. These are all things she’s done several times, and there are even multiple sets of written instructions from all of her kids on how to do it because we all have to show her every time we visit, but none of it ever seems to stick. I really don’t understand it.
My mom is illiterate with technology, or used to be. I had to rename internet explorer (couldn’t grasp the concept of chrome or firefox at the time) to CLICK HERE TWICE FOR INTERNET.
However, three years ago I bought her a kindle fire and she’s been a lot more interested in technology. To our horror, her coworkers at the hospital use her for tech support at night.
I feel like one of the biggest issues with computer illiterate people is that they are afraid that computers are so fragile that if they make a wrong click that they will immediately get a virus or destroy the screen. Many “tech problems” arise from simply refusing to use common sense to search for the answer and experiment with looking for something.
Gaming specific, but when people are complaining about lag online.
“I have 60 megs down and 40 up, I shouldn’t have any lag!!”
Not true at all. Past a certain threshold (like 3 mbs), your bandwidth doesn’t matter. Its all about connection quality, namely latency and packet loss. You can have a high connection and still have crappy online gaming experiences if you’re dropping packets.
When people (usually teachers) are showing you a video on YouTube and they do one of, or all, 3 of these things:
1Neglect to hit the full screen button
2Keeping the ad on the screen the whole video instead of hitting the x and closing it out
3Leaving the CURSOR HOVERED OVER THE PLAY BUTTON
I’ve had uncles and aunts that tell me they have forgotten their password to their Gmail and ask if I can get it back because they never used to enter it as it was already autocompleted.
I have an uncle that said he was going to ring Google to demand they auto fill that box for him so he can log on. And he blamed them that it was his fault he didn’t know his password or security question.
Right before I bought my own computer when I was in my teens I downloaded chrome with ABP to avoid viruses and ads and such. My dad saw the icon, thought it was Limewire or something, and demanded I take it off his computer because he didn’t want viruses. He then went on to use Internet Explorer with McAfee and riddled his computer with viruses.
Needless to say, when he finally threw it out, he heavily implied the 3 days chrome was on his computer was what did it in.
They don’t understand the difference between online and offline content, it’s all just stuff in the computer.
For example, grandma’s computer is offline, she opens a folder and sees her pictures, she opens her email and it doesn’t work, I get a call because something in her computer isn’t working and she doesn’t understand the difference between things that do and do not require a connection.
My grandfather (mid-70s) isn’t technologically savvy in the slightest. He has a cell phone, but it’s a very old flip phone. He hardly ever uses it, and when he does, he talks very loudly and a bit worriedly. He always has to announce that he’s “talking on the cell phone” if he calls you with it, and that “we might get disconnected”. My family was visiting him a few years back, and he had pulled his phone out of his pocket because we were talking about our smartphones and he wanted to explain that he got along just fine with his old one. I glimpsed a piece of tape on it from where I was sitting and asked to see it. To my dismay, he had taped a sticky note with two numbers on it to the back of his phone: his wife’s cell phone number, and the number of his buddy he always talks football with. I shared my discovery with everybody and we all had a good laugh. After the laughter died down, I offered to put the numbers in so he could take the sticky note off, to which he replied “I’m sure you could, but I wouldn’t know how to get them back out.
I was asked to train up a new colleague and show her the way around the software that we use. I asked her if she uses a computer at home and she says “Uhhh, well…kind of… My husband has one…”
I start showing different bits and pieces, then let her have a go. She pauses for a minute, and then lifts the mouse up to the screen to try and move the cursor.
She’s been there around 6 years. Still refuses to use the computer.
I work in the IT sector of my company and I hear the tech support guys teaching people how to reset their password every few months. It goes something like this: “Did you restart your computer? okay.. no .. it can’t be that fast.. how did you restart it? no. It’s not the button on the monitor. Okay you need a capital letter, a number and a symbol. You did what? No. Stop. A CAPITAL LETTER. No. Dont do that. Stop it. A number. Did you include a number?…” etc etc. It’s quite entertaining / cringing to hear.
Acquire an assortment of useless browser toolbars and extensions.
Open Yahoo search, search for google, then search for what you want.
The monitor is the computer, the computer is the modem. This is non negotiable.
Never read error messages; if you read them, you’re just admitting defeat.
Restarting does nothing. It’s a scam tech support uses when they want to take a coffee break.
OS upgrades are bullshit because they’re different. Different sucks.
You only need two fingers to type with at the most. Watch your keyboard to make sure you’re typing properly.
Don’t worry about file directories and subfolders. Storing your files is what the desktop is for.
If something stops working, the last person who touched it besides you is responsible.
You’re not doing it wrong. You’re doing it your own way.
My grandfather is a phenomenally brilliant man, but he was a little bit slow on the uptake when it came to embracing the use of computers. It was only after years of saying “The Internet is everything wrong with the world today!” – and that’s a direct quote, incidentally – that he allowed my father to give him a crash course in navigating the online world. Given that I come from a family of engineers and inventors, this teaching session was less an informative class and more a period of barely controlled chaos… and it also resulted in an outcome that never would have even occurred to me.
Now, everyone has stories about old people cluttering up their browsers with malicious toolbars and unnecessary applications, and you may be thinking that my grandfather managed to contract the Internet’s equivalent of syphilis within moments of getting online. As it turned out, though, he had an odd sort of natural immunity to the pitfalls of the Web, of which he needed to be cured before he could effectively explore.
“Okay, Dad,” my father had been saying, “this is your browser. You use it to look at the Internet.” He pointed at the top section of the screen as he spoke. “This field here is where you’ll type in the address of whatever website you want to visit.”
“Sure, I know that much,” joked my grandfather. “I don’t know any addresses, though!”
“Right, so you’ll need to look them up.” My father gestured at the address bar again. “This browser lets you use that field to search for things, too. Try typing in ‘metallurgy’ or something.”
My grandfather did as he was instructed, and – after examining the resultant page for a few seconds – eventually expressed his muted delight at being able to access entire libraries’ worth of encyclopedias from the comfort of his office. There were more questions asked, of course, but after a handful of minutes, my father encouraged the man to do some independent experimentation.
When he came back a little while later, though, he discovered that he’d left out a rather crucial detail.
“Uh, Dad?” my father asked. “What are you doing?”
My grandfather jabbed his finger at the screen. “That’s supposed to be an entry on trains. I’m going to look at it.”
“That’s great, but… again, what are you doing?” My father pointed at an open notebook next to the keyboard.
A roll of the eyes and a cantankerous grumble preceded my grandfather’s next words. “Look, I’m new to this whole Internet thing. Maybe you kids can remember all of these addresses, but I need to write them down.”
With a dawning sense of horror (and no small amount of amusement), my father watched as my grandfather wrote – by hand – an entire URL onto a physical sheet of paper. Once he had finished, he closed his browser window, opened a new one, and typed the link he had copied into the address bar.
“Damn!” my grandfather exclaimed, having been presented with an error page. “I must have written it down wrong. Hold on.” Once again, he closed the browser window, opened another one, typed “trains” into the address bar, then started manually transcribing the URL he intended to visit.
My father actually let him finish before pointing out what would have been obvious to you or me.