Waking the Sleeping Technophobe

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So once in awhile I need a 350 MB slap in the face to jar me out of my lethargy and stir again within me that familiar sense of righteous indignation that is all-too-easily charmed into a dim complacency by a phone that takes pictures of my kids or the soothing hues and dulcet tones of a flat-screen TV bringing football games into my living room in HD with surround sound.

When the bad things happen, they reanimate my bedrock suspicions about the dark side of technology and a culture blind to its dangers. They remind me that technology is malevolent and will always be first to violate our truce. Its spawn—my home entertainment system, my cell phone, my microwave, my laptop, my software applications—are nothing more than a jumble of capricious components or lines of code, each its own Pandora's Box of hungry malfunctions poised to wreak havoc on my existence and feed on my time and money.

Once I'm reminded by a day like yesterday that technology is an adversary rather than an ally, all becomes right in my world. I taste bile again and relish it as a man dying of thirst in a desert would relish a mouthful of clean, cold ice-melt.

Yesterday, I lost almost an entire workday for no reason I can discern other than that I emerged from my mother's womb lacking some required level of aptitude in and specific knowledge of technology. Apparently, everyone else in the world possesses such knowledge, but this birth defect of mine has cost me many workdays and many dollars over the years.

Yesterday's problems began after I removed a graphic design software application—Adobe CS—from my hard drive. I reasonably—but naively, as it turned out—believed the application was superfluous, given that I had replaced it a couple months earlier with Adobe CS2, the latest version of the same software. Unbeknownst only to me it seems, removing the obsolete version also removed critical files that were being shared with the new version, thus rendering the new version—this is so cute—unusable.

I couldn't open the program; I had no access the projects I had been working on; I had imminent deadlines to meet and no idea of how to make things right, because I wasn't born with essential knowledge about the inter-connectedness of new software applications and the earlier versions they replace. And how was I to know this? There was no cartoon figure appearing on the screen wagging his finger at me, telling me about the dangers of what I was doing. (Oh, that it would only have been so!) Nope. It was assumed that I knew!

I maniacally clicked and re-clicked the now-inactive Adobe CS2 icon on my desktop like an inveterate slots player pulling the one-armed bandit for hours on end, wishing for the magic pull that solves all problems but never comes. Out of ideas after that, I executed the first and last step in my personal Advanced Troubleshooting Guide; I rebooted my computer. Didn't work that time either.

In a cold sweat and with a dry mouth—not even enough saliva to spit on my computer—I trembled with fury and swore loud and long with a deeply irrational and personal hatred for whomever the omnipotent entity is that was responsible for this utterly gratuitous upheaval in my life. I cursed this grand wizard of technology, who purposefully and for, I am convinced, his own amusement withheld from me any clue as to the damage that would be wrought as I began removing the old program. I think I assured my excommunication from the Church of Technology yesterday.

On a less ethereal and more personally satisfying level, I also imagined lining up all the software developers at Adobe and punching them one by one in the solar plexus, because, as far as I'm concerned, they all watched and chuckled as a blind man walked into a minefield of their making.

That's my plight, sad to say. Because I've been born lacking THE KNOWLEDGE, whenever I attempt any maintenance more advanced than deleting an email on my computer, turning up the volume on my TV, or setting the ring tone on my phone, I do so with my jaw clenched in angst and with inevitably horrific results. Impotent rage at some unidentifiable force and daydreams of doing bodily harm to strangers then become my only recourse—well...that or reasoned self-control, but that's just not realistic at this point.

Ahhhh. Feels good to be back.
Michael Stuhlreyer

Michael Stuhlreyer is a business writer and graphic designer specializing in the creation of marketing and sales support materials, as well as articles, case studies, white papers, and product profiles for technology companies. Contact Mike at, or visit his Web site,



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