I admit it. When it comes to computers I’m a retard. Someone explains how to run a program, I nod, it all makes sense, then the minute he leaves I’m the guy from MEMENTO. I’m completely helpless over a skill that every 14 year old in America has mastered. And I can work a TIVO so I’m still ahead of most of my friends (you’d think those Masters degrees and Doctorates would account for something). But even if I knew the first thing about using Pro Tools or how to log onto a porn site without getting a raft of spam, I still contend computers are just too complicated.
Case in point: I switched internet providers this week. I’d been having terrible trouble with my DSL provider. In fairness, the culprit was really the phone company (You can call it Verizon now but it’s still General Telephone – the string-and-two-Dixie-cups of telecommunications). But my internet was down every two nights and finally I decided to switch to cable.
I know a lot of internet providers will provide you with a box of equipment and instructions. To me that’s like buying a car from Ikea. A big box arrives on your front lawn that says Toyota. So I of course opted for the installation package. It took this guy (a “trained” professional) two hours at which time he had managed to completely screw up every computer in the house, the router, and my microwave is now on the fritz. He threw up his hands and left, I had to call my computer guy (at “you need a loan” hourly prices), and it took him another two hours to fix things. And there’s still a problem with my email that he says can only be rectified if I upgrade my entire system (which would be a whole day, the cost of a year’s college tuition, and would probably wipe out my Tetris high score results). For a good part of the afternoon this guy (who really knows his shit), recalibrated, reconfigured, pulled down menus and pop up boxes I never knew existed, hooked things up from modems to bay stations to power outlets, typed in IP addresses, user names, passwords, codes, clicked yes and no to thousands of options, and still had to call tech support twice. When I asked if the tech support guys were helpful he said the second guy was. Jesus, even the tech support people don’t know what they’re doing.
There has to be a simpler way. They can invent ipods and blue tooth and instant messaging complete with video – there has to be a computer even I can use. In the meantime, there’s a guy with a perpetual runny nose, lazy eye, and thinning hair at 22, toting around Natalie Portman stills from STAR WARS – and I’m his bitch.