I could never describe myself as computer literate. On the wall above my desk there is a sketch of a PC with the words.
‘Hello. This is your computer speaking.
You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?’
It sums up how I feel pretty accurately.
About three years ago, made nervous by the way my primary school age children were able to run rings round me technologically and fearful of where this gap in our knowledge might lead me, I got myself a laptop. I have been more or less baffled ever since.
I’m not scared by computers. I trust that I can’t do too much damage and that if I always read the pop up boxes, especially the ones that ask me if I’m really sure, then I should be OK. But I do find the whole thing terribly exasperating. Because I am self taught, I am sure I always find the most tortuous ways to achieve things. Photos in particular are an issue. I have all my photos in named folders in date order, as you might expect but when I get a new camera load in to be sorted, I have to set aside a good day and a half whilst I laboriously move them all about to where I want them. And the photoshop thing that opens each time is a complete mystery to me. I had a go at a bit of gentle editing but I’m not entirely sure where the computer saved the results to so I just forgot that I’d ever tried.
My computer tells me that its hard drive, a term I’ve never really got to grips with, is almost full but I have no clue as to what I should be deleting. My husband nearly had heart failure when he realised that three years worth of deleted emails are still there. Well, I clicked ‘delete’. How was I supposed to know that all that did was move the redundant message from one folder to another?
You see, that’s the trouble. No one has ever shown me this stuff. When I worked in an office I had a secretary to do everything related to computers. Back then, we hadn’t even started emailing outside the office. So ask me to set up word document with anything more complicated than a few italics and I’m howling in frustration. Why does my numbering go awry? Why does the type keep returning to bold unbidden? It’s all a mystery. It’s like trying to understand Chinese without first mastering the alphabet.
I think I may have inadvertently fallen down an abyss between two stools. I am not of my parents’ generation who believe the internet to be a bad and dangerous place and a nice, handwritten letter is much the best way to go. Similarly, I have never been educated or worked in an environment where computers are just taken for granted.
I think I would like my life to fall somewhere between the two extremes. Google is great but it’s important to be able to use a dictionary. Sat nav is marvellous but maps are sometimes more effective. And if someone can explain iTunes to me, I’ll be forever in their debt.