I have fought more than my share of battles with technology over the past few weeks, and I have learned something about technology consumers. There are three types of technology consumer. The first is afraid of it any uses it very reluctantly. Their fear usually makes for disaster when they venture into technology, because they harbor the false belief that they can do something to damage the technology just by using it.
The second type of technology consumer is at the other end of the spectrum. They love technology more than they love their romantic partner – in fact, technology is their true love. They not only love to use it, they secretly love it when it doesn’t work, because then they can learn even more about how it works. These are the people who will spend hours pouring over a problem with their technology in an attempt to correct whatever has gone wrong. Quite often, they are very successful. When they are, they have a massive orgasm and an almost irresistible urge to smoke a cigarette. They can hardly wait for the next time their technology crashes so that they, too, can experience yet another “little death.” This kind of consumer doesn’t
Last, but not least, there are the rest of us. We like technology, we aren’t afraid of it, and we sincerely hope that it will make us more productive – or at least save us a little time. We learn how to operate what we have, but don’t really become technology romancers. We don’t really care how it works, we just want it to work. When it doesn’t work, or worse yet when it “works” but actually makes our tasks take longer than they did when we did them manually, we get mad. Mad as hell. We start cursing those near-sighted little geeks who know how to write code but apparently don’t know how to write it very well. We damn them for making our lives miserable after promising to make them better. We scream unbelievable obscenities at these invisible tormentors who we made fun of all throughout high school and who now seem to control the world. We say, “Screw them and the 1974 Ford Pintos they rode in on!”
Then we stumble across a nice pen shop, where they still sell fountain pens, and a nice book store where we can buy paper on which to write. The muscles in our hands take some time to reacquaint themselves with gripping a pen, but in time the cramping stops and we start to create in a way no keyboard could ever let us create. We feel the paper under the tip of our pen. We cackle madly. We have beaten the geeks, and are certain we can consign them to where we belong – prying apart the stuck-together pages of their father’s Playboy magazine so he doesn’t notice they found his stash. We decide to go somewhere to celebrate, and we’re not sure how to get there, so we try to buy a map at the gas station.
Dammit! No maps. They have won after all.