Tech Thursday

4 misconceptions people have about techies

ipadHere we go again.  I was talking with an old friend and she made a little comment that was meant to be harmless but was one part snide, one part rude with a little fear thrown in.  She said “well I’m not into technology like you.”

If I had a nickel for every time someone has acted like my adeptness in technology was like witchcraft, I would have a very strange way of earning money.

Even before I worked in Information Technology (IT), I’d get remarks like that whenever I showed any capability to navigate a new technology without fumbling like a fish out of water. The thing is, it wasn’t so much that I spoke “computer” better than anyone. I just used a combination of common sense, critical thinking and intuitiveness. The same way one should approach any life problem.  But because the magic of computers was behind the scenes, all electrons and ones and zeros, it scared them. And it was easier to put me down than to elevate their understanding. I guess they were confronting the simultaneously existential yet provincial terror of someone choosing to use the whole of their brain when it suits them.

Just means it is time to crush some of these stereotypes and misconceptions people have about people who work in information technology and other techies…..

#1) My cousin is a programmer, so he can help you set up your new computer

(Note: we stopped calling them programmers when they started reproducing in the wild.  The latest vernacular is Developers or  the pejorative Code Monkeys if you want to start a fight).
Do you go see a Dermatologist when you need a Cardiologist? Unless you have very crappy health insurance I assume the answer is no. The only things these two types of doctors have in common is they both (probably) took anatomy in med school and pay a hefty sum for malpractice insurance.


Your cousin’s ability to set up your new PC has nothing to do with her ability to write code*  If she happens to know something about computer hardware, it’s a lucky coincidence, not a requirement of her job.

Sure there is overlap in our knowledge and experiences, especially if you came up through the information technology trenches like most. But we don’t and cannot know everything. Sooner or later we start to specialize in one area and that means we DON”T know every corner of IT, from programming to networks to wifi routers.

#2)  You work with computers, you must know how to hack into a website or a database

By this logic, you have a parking ticket, therefore you must know how to successfully pull off a bank robbery.  The operative word is “successfully”.  A very small subset of IT professionals know how to really do all those things Hollywood make look so easy and fast using movie physics.  The reality is we either have to loosely interpret “hack” to mean guess the password of a poorly configured wifi router or understand that the hacking you see in the movies really takes hours and hours of work and a little bit of luck.

#3) We are really into technology at the expense of everything else

So let’s clear some things up. First, I’m not into technology. I don’t want to date technology, sleep with technology or even have technology over for coffee. There are things I hate about Tech just like everyone else. Proprietorship comes to mind.

That said, I’ve always viewed technology as a tool. If it makes your life easier, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t. With the caveat that if everyone around you is utilizing a technology, maybe just maybe you should consider getting on the band wagon.  I’m not saying run out and buy the latest and greatest Smart phone, iPad and streaming devices.  Just stop making your friends send you a fax because you don’t think this texting thing is gonna last.


#4)  If we are techies, we must like….Star Wars, Star Trek, D&D, video games, Cosplay…etc

this is yet another stereotype. Yes some of us like Star Wars. Some of us don’t. some of us like Star Trek but have never played Dungeons & Dragons in their lives. It’s no different than someone liking football but not baseball.  Or biking but not running.  We are very diverse and mostly human so please be kind and not judge us.  Or else we will cram your inbox with spam.   Just kidding, see #2.


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