Confessions of a Technophobe

Let’s get something straight here. I’m not anti-technology. I’m not a laptop-destroying Luddite bent on wreaking havoc against Apple products and NASA. Heck, if it weren’t for technology, I wouldn’t be zapping these thoughts out into the blogosphere or texting Judson photos of dried mango balls. The reality is, technology and I don’t understand each other.

Technology is like a foreign exchange student from Mars who speaks in blips and wows its host family while I’m the small child who accidentally gets spaghetti in its circuits and breaks it and everyone hates me. I’m afraid of breaking the technology.

Up until recently, it was easy enough for me to be super stealth around technology and evade it. I hid out in Egypt for four years where technology was dependent on internet and internet was so unreliable it was rarely used in the classroom. One time, someone stole the internet cord – is there such a thing? – from the road and the school was internet-less for a month. (When I say someone, I totally don’t mean me…)

Now, however, technology has found me, and it isn’t pretty. I’ve known it was coming since mid-February, when I started receiving emails “Inviting” me to view documents and PowerPoints and items that are stored in mysterious intangible places like drives and clouds. Prior to that, I only ever got invitations to birthday parties and weddings, and that was fine by me. But no. My new school is full throttle into the Cloud-powered future and it’s jump on board or fall to the wayside to be eaten by feral people wielding book socks and manual crank pencil sharpeners.

Don’t get me wrong. My school has been providing tech workshops and our IT guy is fantastic – as patient as he is brainy – but I am miles behind my peers. Miles. They’ve all zoomed off in their George Jetson flying cars and I’m still fording the river in my Conestoga wagon. (It’s also possible I have dysentery since I haven’t gotten any vaccines, but that’s for another entry.)

I know what you’re going to say. “Oh, you’re exaggerating. I’m sure you know more than you let on!”

My answer to you is a thump on the head with my woolly mammoth-slaying club.

Our first session, a simple and entertaining lecture on how to use Google Drive, involved my colleagues soaring through their Google sites on their little Polly Pocket-sized Macbooks while I poked at the mouse rectangle.

“Where do you prefer to store files over 10GB, in Google Drive or Hapara’s Magical Hat? And why?” (I may have substituted fun names for whatever this person was asking about.)

“Will these files sync automatically to my Nimbus software in my home entertainment system?”

“How do you scroll on this machine?”

I’ll let you guess which one was me, and no, I’m not kidding. While our IT technician (Is this term correct, or should I just call him Wizard? I’ll just call him Wizard.) has been friendly and helpful, I’m certain he thinks I am a troglodyte that the director dragged out of a cave as part of a funny experiment.

“Sorry to bug you again, but I don’t know how to find Power School.”

“Cool…you don’t know how to log in?”

“No, I know how to log in. I don’t know how to get to the website.”

Confusion.

“You typed it into the search bar?”

“No…I don’t know the website.”

I then grunted and slouched off to discover agriculture.

Despite all of this, I am trying. Today I tried to use my Promethean board, but the things on my computer monitor were different than the things on my Promethean board, and it frightened me, and I think the board knows that it frightens me. What’s also scary is that I don’t know how to do CTRL + ALT + DEL on Macs. What do you do when the Mac is frozen?

“Macs don’t freeze,” you might say, but you are wrong. Yesterday, my Mac did nothing except display a spinning circle – that looked deceptively like a lollipop – for a good twenty minutes before I retrieved Preston from next door and forced him to stop doing work and come with me and explain what was going on. (The answer? Shut down the computer.)

And it’s not limited to computers. This conversation happened today:

“My locker isn’t working.” – Student

“Oh? Is it one of those electronic ones?”

“Yeah.”

“In my day, we had combination locks.”

That’s right. I said the phrase In my day. Because I don’t understand these young whippersnappers and their weird gadgets.

It’s funny to write about. But when I’m there at the school, surrounded by technophiles whose brains have evolved to have Google-lobes, I feel like a moron. (I’m not alone, thankfully. My friend Sarah couldn’t scroll either. She hides it better, though, because she’s a science person. Sorry I’ve outed you.) I’m sure that by the end of this year, I’ll be speaking in code and you’ll all think I’m remarkably intelligent. I will stop being afraid of making someone’s Google file disappear forever. I will stop thinking of tablets as “Thou shalt not kill” and start associating them with “Allow push notifications?” I will take you outside and point at the sky and say with confidence, “My files are somewhere up there. I understand this.”

For now, I am content to learn from my students, even if it means admitting that I have no idea what a fiber optic is. And if the fate of the free world rests on someone opening a combination locker or correctly identifying Moby in a photograph, I will gladly make myself useful.

*This entry was translated from a series of elaborate cave paintings.

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