Nobody likes to be bad at what they do, but we’re all willing to be bad at what we don’t want to do. Like resetting the clock on every electronic device in the house when the electricity comes back on. Or hooking up the new cable box. If the situation involves attaching wires, I become an instant imbecile. If there is a big spider, I’ll go all girly in a second and beg my husband to kill it. (PETA fans, don’t write; he always takes the damn thing outside to freedom.) I am perfectly willing to suck at cable-attaching and arachnid-killing.
Oddly, computers — which often require wires or, more often, wireless connection — do not scare me. My first experience with computers was a blue screen and a blinking cursor; you had to write your own batch files in DOS if you want something to happen. (That probably doesn’t mean a thing to anyone under 40 but that’s the way things were done.) WYSIWYG was a new concept. I entered the workforce about the same time PCs did, so I had to learn to use them if I expected to remain employed. But my interest in computers was never geekish; I don’t give a crap how my car manages to work, and I don’t care one whit what happens under the hood of my laptop.
How is it that my friends think I’m all “techie”? If I’m your tech support, you are in big trouble. I only know what I have to know in order to use my computer, stuff everyone should know. When it comes to using Facebook, updating a client’s website with a content management program, or preparing files for the printer, I can’t break it, and I can’t drive it off a cliff. So, I’m amazed at how many folks seem to be scared to death of anything that happens on a screen.
Maybe it’s like the time I told my husband that I was tired of cleaning his bathroom (what, do bears live in here?) and that he’d have to do it himself. I armed him with the tools of the trade: Ajax, that scrubbing bubbles stuff, Windex, a mop, a rag, and a sponge. Two-and-a-half hours later, out he comes. Upon inspection, I find a half-inch of water on the floor, Ajax liberally sprinkled all over, and a smeared mirror. Really? REALLY? So I cleaned it myself. It didn’t occur to me until much later that I may have been a victim of what Dilbert calls “strategic incompetence.” He denies such claims.
There’s a phrase that true techies use that is so snarky that even I won’t say it: learn to swim. In other words, there’s basic stuff everyone should know, so go know. A much kinder take on the concept of suckage is what my Rabbi, Alexis Berk, used to say to Hebrew students: “You are not allowed to say you are no good at this.” It’s too easy. A cop-out. And often a way to get someone else to do the work.
Next time the electricity goes out, I will offer to change all the clocks. Maybe.