Jump to content

Why do people know so little about their computers?


Recommended Posts

Let me preface by saying I'm not a computer genius by any stretch of the imagination BUT I can do basic stuff like load an op system, set it up the way I like it, install basic software through a software center of via a .deb package, ect.

Why is it that so many people have and use computers but have no Earthly Clue how to do even simple tasks on them?

I talked to my daughter-in-law to wish her happy birthday the other day and somehow(not like I'd say anything,LOL) we got on the subject of computers. She said they were getting their laptop back from repair and she was complaining about how much it'd cost for Anti-Virus Software. I mentioned Linux and she said "Yah, but Macs are so expensive." and I had to explain to her that Macs use OS-X, Linux runs on PC's. They she said they were getting the internet and I told her about how fast Linux would run on her laptop and I guess she thought I was saying something about the internet because she started talking about how much it cost for faster internet and I had to back track her and told her that I was actually talking about the operating system on the computer and not the internet.

I told her I'd burn her off a couple DVD's, one of Point Linux and one of SolydX and she could install them on her computer and she'd not have to worry about buying anti-virus software or getting malware and stuff. She thought that was a good idea but I'd be willing to bet that she'd not be able to install the Distro and even if she did she'd not understand that you can tweak stuff to set it up the way you like it, that's it's not Windows where it's the MicroSoft way or the Highway. Then I started thinking about how I'm going to have to walk her through getting the clock and date set up, how I'll probably have to talk her through doing "sudo apt-get update" and "sudo apt-get dist-upgrade" to get things up to date.

I just can't understand why EVERYONE doesn't know how to do that stuff, LOL. Seems like pretty basic knowledge to me. Oh well, guess I'll just have to suffer through getting her up to speed with Linux and hopefully she'll take the ball and run with it after she's using it for a while.

I mean there's plenty of great Linux forums to ask questions on and plenty of web sites with info it's just that a person has to stop being so helpless and actually make an effort to learn about stuff. I don't mind helping out but there comes a point where it's kind of a "get off your butt and learn it for yourself" kind of deal.

Anyway, guess this has turned into a little bit of a rant but I just had to vent a bit and get this off of my chest, LOL See ya'll on the forums.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The answer to the question is quite simple and if you view it from their perspective quite reasonable aswell:

They don't care

Yes, people's lives these days pretty much revolve around computers. Many people these days are effectively merged with their email, whatsapp, facebook, linked in and twitter accounts, would use google to look up the answer to 1+1 - and all that is *outside* the office and school where the computer is almost always an even bigger part of the daily goings on.

But do they give a rat's ass about the means by which they perform these tasks? Of course not! They have a screen, they want something on there that shows the internet and they want to know where to type the URL and such. Everything else is just window dressing. You use the OS that comes with the device and while each OS has its perculiarities they quickly figure out how to reach that window and from that point on, they're set. To the technologically-minded folk this is like someone taking a $200 bottle of the most exquisite wine and downing it in one big gulp just to get wasted. And as you try to pick up the broken pieces of your jaw up from the floor the only response you'll get from them is that they expected to get more drunk from it and the yuppie type would pony up the dough for another bottle to sort them out.

It's mildly depressing, but when you learn to accept this at least you'll spare yourself a disappointment.

When someone complains about the price of software, just point out that what you use cost less or is less of a hassle. Don't tell them what to do because for all you know the other person spent the better part of a day looking frustrated at their computer screen trying to reach that mythical browser screen. Also, don't say that X is better than what they're using because so long as you don't know about *EVERYTHING* they do with the device right now you won't be able to guarantee that all that will be available in a sufficiently similar package that they can just continue where they left off. Ever get a good laugh about that "retraining budget" companies have for their staff when the next version of Office comes out? Like, "how hard can it be?" Well, trust me, HARD! People don't care about the software, they care about their procedure. And when you do something that messes up their procedure, you've made it effectively IMPOSSIBLE for them to do their thing.

Think you'll have to talk her through "sudo apt-get update"? I'll pretty much guarantee it. And she'll do it once and then forget about it. If you can't do it with a mouse, it's hard. Good luck trying to explain that sudo means "Super User Do" as an easy way to remember the command. When was the last time you saw a Windows or Mac user do anything in a dos box? Typing is to enter data which gets validated before being run. The OS stands between the user and the hardware because the user is too ignorant to know the damage he/she might cause. Remember the story about the guy that was told to tidy up his computer so he removed almost all the files from C:\ including the Windows folder because "he wasn't using it"? And rest assured, people in your vacinity will know who gave them their computer/os/whatever or helped them fix something on it and they will keep running back to that person each and every time something weird is happening and they're too afraid do anything with it until someone knowledgable looks at it since the last time they did something the machine was out for "repairs" for 4 weeks (4 weeks without the mythical window!!!) and they had to pay quite a lot of money for the privillege.

Big rant to accompany your rant.


People don't give a shit how it's done, so long as they can do what they want to do.

Don't tell them to do things differently or you'll get blamed for EVERYTHING that isn't exactly the way they want it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why do so many people have cars but know very little about maintenance? Its not an interest to them (me included)

I used to think that people who don't know anything about computers are stupid or lazy but now I realize, hey we are all different and all have different interests.

Also if everyone knew about computers I would be out of a job just like if everyone knew about cars then a car mechanic would also be out of a job. Ignorance is a good thing in some cases

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was going to mention cars. I've worked on my own cars all of my life and unless it's something that takes special tools or is in other ways too much of a job for me to do then I"m the one who does it.

I work on my own firearms, computers, do repairs around the house including plumbing, electrical, ect. I'm just a DIY kind of guy I guess, mostly because of the money it'd take to pay someone else to do it and partly because I know I'll do the best job possible and not just half do it.

I just think if a person owns a car, computer or whatever they need to have at least a very basic knowledge of how to maintain it or they shouldn't own it.

A bit more rant to add to my original rant and your rant Cooper. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest spazi

For me personally, When I buy something, I always want to know how it works, what if it breaks, how can i make sure it will be in great shape for a long time. But that is just me.

It seems to me that people now just buy phones and computers like people buy clothes. It's a brand, it's popular.

They don't care how it works. It just has to work until it get's replaced by a new product of the same brand.

Since I'm tech sawy, relatives always call me to help them with their computer related problems, I just don't pick up the phone anymore.

My advice is always: "If you are having problems, chances are that thousands of others have the same problem. Google it! And fix it!"

Edited by spazi
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ok, lets drop the air of elitist... Yea we here like to know how things work. My friend is becoming a medical doctor, knows more about the human body than anyone I know. But he doesn't care for computers. It's not about having no idea how to do simple tasks, it's what interests you. I'm sure you don't know everything or even a good amount about human physiology, yet you ARE human. That's an even bigger crime than not knowing how a computer works. People don't HAVE to know about computers, it's not 'depressing' as long as they are interested in something that's what counts. I hate it when the people in this field this this elitist feel just because we know more about something than others. If everyone had this mentality, it'd be a pretty cruel world to live in. Why is it people in IT are so full of themselves?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not taking an "elitist" bent with this thread at all. Go back and read the first sentence that I wrote.

All I'm saying is that I think if a preson gets a computer they need to know more then just where the "Start" button is and how to fire up Firefox.

For Linux users we really NEED to know "sudo apt-get update" and "sudo apt-get upgrade", those are two Terminal commands that are a must for keeping your system up to date. For ANY user it should be basic knowledge as to how to set up your desktop. Adding icons to your panel or setting up font sizes should just be a no brainer.

I think a big part of the problem is that MicroSoft and Apple pretty much set up the desktop so that the end user has no real say in the matter. It's a "my way or the highway" kind of deal. You take what you get and if you don't like it well, too bad, you're stuck with it. Then you move to a Linux based Op System and you have all kinds of options, most of which you don't even know that you have until you look around a bit, that is IF you even bother to look around a bit since most are not use to tweaking or setting anything up.

I've Distro Hopped so much that I can install a Distro without even thinking. Those Distros that I've liked with a MATE, GNOME 3 or now xfce Desktop are ones I can tweak to my likings without much effort and I'm learning stuff everyday about how to set them up to be even more to my liking.

I think too many people (especially where computers are conserned) have been taught "don't mess with it" but with Linux you're suppose to mess with it, that's why I love Linux so much. I can add a start button or weather widget to my panel. I can add programs easily with "sudo apt-get install", I can do so many things on Linux that I either couldn't do or didn't know I could do on my iMac and that just really makes me love Linux all the more.

I don't see how everyone doesn't get fired up about the power that Linux brings to us and how they can't just jump in there and learn all they can to get the most out of that power. It really is half of the fun of having a computer, being able to actually "DO" stuff other then just surf the web or check e-mail.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see how everyone doesn't get fired up about the power that Linux brings to us and how they can't just jump in there and learn all they can to get the most out of that power. It really is half of the fun of having a computer, being able to actually "DO" stuff other then just surf the web or check e-mail.

To most end user's they don't care to do more than surf the web or check email. Usually if they need something more they contact a friend or a company to assist them. This is what keeps people in the computer field in business.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to agree with Lost In Cyberia here. Not to point fingers at all, I think everything said here thus far has been fairly mild, but it does feel elitist. It's understandable to an extent given our general passion for learning how things work, but not everyone has that, and it doesn't have to be a bad thing. The fact is that the Microsoft+Apple "Hey look it's a computer and it works" model is appropriate for 80% of end users. Of course, if someone wants to break outside that mold and use something different, I agree with you, they should learn much more. We can extol the virtues of Linux customization all day, but from most people you'll get blank stares, because really they don't care. What they have works, and they don't need much more from it. Let them have their tainted cool-aid. :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Awesome lots of great posts. People are not computer users like us. They are used to the model where you call for tech support and onsite support when you need something. When something does not seem right they go to the electronics store with their pc for help. I think this is geared toward the average home user. Backup is something visitors to Florida do they don't look. Just another goof thats what people think backup are. I think the fact that there many cool options for external drives and cloud setups eg ubuntu one. There are some simple things to do backup windows profile file or linux home directory regularly. There is a script you can put on a flash drive to do this beyond many users. Good for us though. Keep a live cd of something handy and or a backup pc with linux on it for desktop users. If the users would actualy learn something by doing not watching it will help. The needs of regular users will never go away.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 years later...

All of you guys are brilliant and RIGHT ON with your insights! ALL of it is true. I work with executives whose secretaries PRINT OFF their emails, and the executive reads the paper version, scribbles off a handwritten reply, and gives it back to the secretary to type and send. I kid you not. That said, I do graphics (Adobe Suite), and ghostwriting, grants, etc. Ninety percent of my clients don't want to "deal with it," meaning the writing or learning how to write a grant, etc.. I don't think it's laziness on their part - they just don't have a brain that works like mine. They seriously cannot comprehend the writing process.

I am putting a 12-volt system in my camper van. I understand the basics, wiring batteries in a series versus in parallel. I.e., a series increases voltage, but wiring in parallel increases battery bank capacity. The total voltage doesn't change, but you need to know what you want. Try to explain this to RV owners and their eyes glaze over. They throw money at electricians to "just wire it so I can charge my stuff." 

How many of you, if asked, could rebuild an automobile transmission, wire an RV, or hell, even cook a five-star meal? Our brains are wired to understand, and not only comprehend certain things but implement them. I can install and troubleshoot my computer because I've HAD to learn if I wanted to do certain things, but I don't enjoy it as much as some of you. Thank God there are so many people who can't or don't want to learn, and who can PAY to have it done! More job opportunities for the rest of us! I understand MY money, but don't ask me to explain banking and "excess money" where it goes, or how the industry works. I don't know and don't want to know beyond how it impacts me. I can and have fixed major systems on my car, including brakes, alternators, starters, gas tanks, radiators, etc. but I no longer have the health or strength to do so. The human brain can hold a lot of info, but most of us are selective about what that info is. And for most, computers, semiconductors, DRAM, and now, AI, are not on that list. They will lose out in the future, but you guys will rule. Isn't THAT awesome? Job security!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...