Before I offer my opinion, I am going to offer some confessions first. I love computers, and spend a lot of my free time messing around and playing with them. I start my morning in front of my laptop, coffee at the ready, checking e-mail and browsing the Internet groups that I read and contribute to. (Dangling participle – and I don’t care.) I work in computer support and web design, so I spend all day working on and with computers. Many nights, I teach adult computer classes for several local school districts. So I am happiest when I am around computers. This, of course, is not the way it is for most people.
I work around people who are not happy around computers. They have found that computers have forced their way into their work life in ways that they don’t particularly care for, and they mostly have learned just enough to perform their job function, but little more. They may not own a computer of their own, or if they do, they rarely do more than send e-mail and play solitaire or Party Poker. Many of these people have dial-up connections, and tell me things like “the Internet is too slow,” or “high speed Internet is too expensive.”
The best way to become more familiar and comfortable with computers is to play with them. Get a PC for your own use; used ones can be had for $200, and new computers loaded with Vista and all the latest goodies run from $700 on up. Get a high-speed connection from your phone or cable company. Get an e-mail account, and spend a little time googling for things that already interest you. Do a little shopping. Have some fun with your computer.
Regardless how you feel about computers in your work and personal life, they are here to stay, and you will only have to become more and more involved with them in your daily life. May I politely suggest that you need to get over your feelings of dread and loathing? Computers are nothing more than a tool, and a great one at that. They are no different than other technological marvels that we work with everyday, like the telephone or automobile.
Let’s talk about the automobile for a minute. We all got through the learning curve when it was time get our driver’s license. It was scary at first, and real complicated. We had to coordinate our hands and feet. For those of us that learned to drive a manual transmission, this meant using both hands and both feet, and each doing something different simultaneously. Steer with the left hand, shift with the right, clutch with the left foot, gas and brake with the right. It was complicated, a little difficult, and scary. Do you remember?
But once we developed some competency, we were in the car all the time for any reason, driving around, exploring, picking up friends, taking trips, trying stuff out, and enjoying the freedom and mobility the car afforded us. For some of us there were misadventures, accidents (crashes), tickets, etc. But we kept at it and mastered driving the car. Most of us have been driving long enough that we don’t even think about it any more.
That’s how computers are, for me, old familiar friends. I can travel around the world in the blink of an eye, communicate instantly with family and friends, share ideas, learn anything I want to know, and shop for anything without getting out of my pajamas or shaving. For me, the computer is my gateway to a wonderful and amazing universe of unlimited choices.
It can be this way for you too. But you need to approach the learning curve with the same excitement, curiosity, delight, and feeling of empowerment that you had when you were learning to drive. Go for it. Feel free to experiment and try new things. Be willing to feel uncomfortable. We willing to fail and try again. Don’t worry about “breaking” the computer; they are pretty durable now and the operating systems are much more stable than they were years ago. Read a computer book or two, or take class through your local Community Education program, or on-line at any of thousands of computer instruction web sites. One good resource that I like is Tutorialized.com. Of my twenty or so computer training websites, three have been included here among the thousands available on a wide range of topics.
Sorry for the long post, but this is a subject I am fairly passionate about. Give my suggestions a try – and start having more fun with your computer.