Monday, October 9, 2017

Technological Nerds Vs. Any Other Kinds of Nerds

I lack the technological savvy that is characteristic of most nerdy people of my generation.  For safety reasons into which I would prefer not to delve right now, my parents limited and closely monitored my access to the Internet when I was in middle school and high school. For both security and financial reasons I would prefer not to discuss at this time, my parents limited my cell phone privileges to a device that had no texting or Internet capacity and limited my calling capacity to the seven numbers they programmed into the phone. I could have purchased a decent phone sooner than I did, but I was sufficiently busy with the ordeal of completing my two-and-one-half major [including pre-med] undergraduate studies that I neither needed nor wanted the hassle even of going to the trouble of purchasing a new phone, much less the headaches associated with learning to use the more complicated phone. Consequently, it wasn't until I was in medical school that I got my cell phone that didn't look like a toy. That first "real" phone was soon upgraded not much later to the iPhone 7 plus that I now have.

My computer skills are on the low end of functional for someone in my position as a medical school student. I can accomplish everything I need to do as a medical school student on a computer with relative ease. Some things I do not do just because I don't want to do them, but all things considered, my delayed exposure to technology has not significantly gotten in the way of my doing anything work-related that I need to do. I can operate technologically-based surgical equipment including various scopes (endoscopes, laparoscopes, etc.). I  must ensure that I am wearing corrective lenses of some sort in order to be able to see what I need to see with regard to these devices, but I am otherwise not technologically impaired with regard to my current educational endeavors and my future profession.

I am, however,  still somewhat limited with regard to my cell phone usage. I was communicating with a friend of mine via a particular application when the application displayed on my screen a promotion of some sort. There wasn't an arrow or cursor to exit the page. When I exited the application, the same display came up whenever I again clicked on the link for the application. My friend tried to talk me through exiting the application's rather aggressive attempt to sell me an upgraded version of the free application I was using.  I clicked on my standard text-messaging application and text my friend that I would fix the app issue later.  My friend told me to hit my home button (He even told me, "The home button is the round white button at the bottom of your phone." I concede to not being the sharpest Crayola in a 64-pack, but, dotard though I am,  even I know what the home button is.) He immediately called me to berate me for my ineptitude and for my temperament, saying that I give up too easily. He asked me what I would do if I were operating and had difficulty removing a patient's appendix. Would I just give up and walk away, my friend wondered aloud, leaving the patient on the operating table with an inflamed appendix and an open abdominal cavity?

Of course I would do no such thing, I told my friend . . .  unless the appendix really was all that difficult to get out and I genuinely had more important things to be doing with my time.  I went on to detail my prowess as a surgeon-in-training, including [but not limited to] my strength with regard to the skill of suturing. I went on to somewhat boast of the aesthetic properties of my suturing ability. I'm not sure my friend believed anything I told him, and I can't entirely say that I blame him, as there may have been an element of bullshit in what I said.  (I do have a flair for stitching, though, if I may say so myself without being accused of the sin of narcissism).

Later, I clicked the app on my phone again, again got the display trying to sell me a vastly superior version of the app I was using for free. Through trial and error i determined that the easiest way out of the sales pitch was to click on an option that read "Demo Message," which then gave the user the option of sending a text as usual, or of returning to the app's home page. The following day, when I returned to my home area, I was able to relocate on the application that very same sales pitch message. I handed my phone with that message on the screen to one of my colleagues whose undergraduate major had been computer engineering. He clicked a few things, then was successful at exiting. I asked him how he had gotten free of the sales pitch page. He told me that the easiest way to exit that page while staying in the app was to click on "Demo Message." I found it odd that a person with all of the iPhone expertise of my colleague recommended the same solution I found for myself.

While it is humbling to be as challenged in using my iPhone as I am, I'm allowed to have a weakness or two, or maybe even three, four, or five. I cannot draw. I'm sometimes irrational if my temperature is above 103 degrees Fahrenheit.  I have a minor processing disorder that delays my ability to access information from my brain so that, when I am asked a question, I sometimes have  to pretend to cough or use another delaying tactic for the five to ten seconds that I need for data retrieval. I have difficulty accessing many of the features of my  iPhone. I don't deal effectively with extremely stupid people. Those (in addition to a possible lack of humility) are what I would perceive to be my five greatest weaknesses. I'm not particularly proud of my weaknesses, but I own them.


  1. Try not having access to the Internet until you're in your mid 20s.

    1. I see where you're coming from, though you're probably far from alone among your contemporaries. I suspect you (and even I to some degree) got a better education because we got through before the heavy emphasis on technology. I concede that technology is appropriate in schools, but from what I've seen, sometimes it dominates at the expense of literacy and numeracy as opposed to facilitating and furthering academics.

    2. I think people are losing their language skills because of too much technology.

    3. I agree. In particular, many children are not acquiring language skills in the first place. As lousy a babysitter as television was, it was better than cell phone games and other forms of video and computer games in terms of a language model. This translates into difficulty in learning to read and write, difficulty with social skills, and even difficulty with math because if a kid doesn't understand up to one-third of the words a teacher uses during a math lesson, he or she will have difficulty grasping the concepts.

      And, of course, in addition to the hit social skills have taken as a result of reduced language ability, they've taken an even greater hit due to reduced interaction.

      I hate to think about this, but when I'm in an old folks' home, when the toddlers of today are retiring from their jobs, and when the kids who haven't yet been born are running things (assuming Dickhead Trump and Kim Jong Idiot haven't destroyed the planet decades earlier) if something hasn't been done done to change this rather frightening trend, no one in congress will be able to negotiate, and our diplomats will have even fewer skills at diplomacy than Donald's minions have, as it takes language to negotiate. I get that people since the time of Socrates have been predicting that the younger generation will bring about destruction of the planet, but I'm beginning to believe it's not that unrealistic under a scenario of a ruling class with no language skills.


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