Does technology baffle anyone else besides me? I consider myself well-educated, with a bachelor’s degree in history and a masters in financial services. I successfully headed a local business for nearly 40 years and led several prominent civic and charitable organizations. I am well-traveled and fluent in German and Swedish. But I invariably struggle with things digital.
I just don’t get it: bits, bytes, the non-intuitive commands, etc. I have always been proud of my ability to detect business patterns and trends that eluded others and how I could explain, orally or in writing, difficult concepts. But technology has been different. Apparently I am just not “wired” correctly.
Humor has helped. I’ve enjoyed telling people that the serious money in my life would be made after I retired and offered myself to the computer industry as the ultimate idiot-proofing standard. “If Wheeler can do it, anybody can!” Based on folks’ responses, that would have been a wildly successful venture.
A recent cartoon grabbed my attention, of a man walking into a computer store, computer in hand, and asking for a tech expert. A clerk responds, “Come back after 3:30; that’s when his mother drops him off after school.”
I have self-diagnosed my technology deficit as LFT, or Low Frustration Tolerance. It seems to be hastening age-related dementia via an inability to cope with the pace of change.
Those “non-intuitive commands” I mentioned, that are required to move forward with a device like a laptop, iPad or iPhone: invariably, I spend more time trying to remember and/or figure out the command, totally distracting me from resolving the original problem. More frustration!
Then there are passwords. Endless, countless passwords, which periodically need to be changed, replete with security questions, effectively barring me from my own information. Is there such a thing as “self-identity theft”?
And then there are robocalls, hackers, and others clearly smarter than us purveyors of information access. Apparently I’m only safe from myself.
Various life challenges have allowed me to develop a certain resilience: widowed at age 37 with children 10, 7, and 4; a subsequent divorce; an estrangement; accidents; illnesses; autism spectrum disorder; and now aging. All to no avail with respect to technology, which simply continues to elude me.
I am competitive, a former professional athlete. But I must concede defeat to technology and its methodology. Does anyone else feel similarly vanquished by this contemporary phenomenon?
Tom Wheeler was a longtime Duluth-area businessman, civic leader, and philanthropist. Retired, he splits his time between Duluth and Tucson, Ariz., and is a regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page.