I remember quite clearly sitting in Sunday School, watching my middle-aged teacher try to get this new-fangled VCR to work. She had tried to plan ahead. She had the tape just where she wanted it. It was in the VCR, she was hitting play, and nothing was happening. She hit stop, then play. She checked the cords connecting the TV and VCR. She was lost. She was clueless. And 6 teenagers sat and watched, every one of them knowing exactly what was wrong.
The power was off. Oh sure, the clock was blinking, but the VCR was off. She had to hit power first, then play. The solution was so obvious. We all knew it but none of us bothered to help. She was middle-aged, she just shouldn’t be messing with technology.
I swore I would never become one of them. A person who struggles with technology. I love technology. It’s a big part of my professional and personal life. I’m a digital native, so I’ll never become like that, right?
More and more I wonder. I bought a blackberry 3 weeks ago. I can’t figure the thing out. It seems to me that the engineers built it specifically to be counter-intuitive. The phone shuts itself off, seemingly at random times. I have missed over a dozen calls. There is an envelope icon that has a number next to it. The number continues to increase over time, but despite the fact that I’ve checked my voice mails, my text messages, and everything else on there, I can’t seem to access that feature.
I sit next to a student who works for me. I think of her as ‘just a few years younger’ than me, but she was born when I entered high school. I want to ask her for help, but I know if I did, she would know the answer. Immediately and intuitively. She would take the phone, push a button, and pass it back. And it would all work. And then I would certainly be one of them. One of those that just doesn’t get it.
And that thought makes me shudder.