Trained Monkey


Sometimes I hate computers. They are such a huge part of my life, from my blog to my email connections, from photo sharing with my family to storing my music. It seems that computers touch everything I do. I think I hate them more because I am so reliant upon them—and yet I lack the ability to effectively communicate with them.

When I use the computer, it’s as if I am one of those actors or opera singers who memorize their lines phonetically, without having a clue what they are actually saying. I can be taught, much like a monkey, what buttons to push and what icons to click, but I don’t, in fact, understand why any of it works at all. So when something goes wrong, the word “troubleshooting” doesn’t even enter my vocabulary, except in my unhinged, lunatic threats against the inanimate object that’s causing my frustration (as in: “If you give me any more trouble, I’m shooting you in the processor, right after I break off your USB ports one by one! You got me?”)

Trained monkey that I am, I especially hate changes in my little technological world of stimuli and response. For example, Microsoft recently updated my web browser of choice, Internet Explorer. I’m sure millions of people just love the tabbed browsing and the other new features. All I can see is that my little “home” button is no longer comfortably settled in the upper left hand corner of the screen next to my little “refresh” button and my little “stop” button.

I hate this.

And now, even as I type, Blogger, in its wisdom, is switching my blog over to the new beta version. Is this a good thing? I don’t know. I can’t see through my tears to find out. What will go wrong? Will you even be able to read this post? Will all my page elements reject the unfamiliar scripting and be sucked into a swirling vortex of mangled text?

Changes. All those computer nerds flippantly wreaking havoc on my little trained monkey world. To rephrase Tom Cruise, they’re glib. It’s as if (caution: another poorly considered metaphor ahead) I’m on a trip to France, having taken the trouble to learn French in high school. It’s a wonderful trip, and everywhere I go, I am secure in the knowledge that I have mastered at least one important phrase: “Where is the bathroom?” I use it over and over, and avoid the international embarrassment of wetting my pants on the steps of Notre Dame. Then, one day, I ask someone, “Where is the bathroom?” and he looks at me with complete incomprehension in his eyes. I spend two hours jumping up and down with my legs crossed attempting to explain what I mean by “bathroom”. Finally, just as my bladder lets go, a lightbulb goes on and the Frenchman tells me, “Ahh! We don’t call that a ‘bathroom’ anymore; it’s called a ‘uriportico’.” And he walks away, laughing at me and leaving me standing in a pool of…frustration.

Nevertheless, progress continues its relentless march across my peace of mind, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon, even for wet pants. I guess I should just be thankful to have someone around who does know how to talk to computers, and to me, and is willing to put in the time to retrain this monkey when she needs it.


9 responses »

  1. Well, you guys would flip in my house! We went from MicroSucks (as it’s referred to in my house), to Linux and Firefox (and Thunderbird for email), then a Mac. I too dislike change, but in the grand scheme of things, I love being able to jump from one OS to another easily. See, I even know the techy-jargin. Granted, if I didn’t learn it and treat it as a 2nd language, my hubby & I would cease to be able to communicate with each other, but, for the most part, I’ve done my share of stomping and griping and crying every time I sit at my desk to find a totally new icon staring me in the face!!!

    Kat, you should try to using Firefox! It’s much better than IE, free to use, and you can add or delete you own buttons, placing them exactly where you want them! It’s wonderful!

  2. I, too, have recently switched to the beta, but have yet to see any of the promised “bells and whistles” (Speaking metaphorically, of course, because I was not hoping for actual bells and whistles. I can only imagine that they would severly inhibit my midnight blogging habits). Everything is exactly the same except that my username is longer and my dashboard is more cluttered. I was expecting at the least a site counter or some other one-size-fits all gift with purchase.

  3. I have yet to switch over to the new blogger because it keeps saying “Enter your Google account info” and I’m like, is that my blogger username and password and stuff? Because I don’t have a Google account or at least I didn’t think I did – and do I now? I’m so afraid to click that little button…

  4. Wait! wait! Blogger is going to just SWITCH us to Beta whether we want it to or not?

    I’m not ready for this!
    Where’s my therapist?!
    Where’s my Prozac?!

    Help! Help! I have no in-house techie! Hellllllllllllllllllp!

    Okay, way to kickstart the anxiety today!

  5. Yeah! What Karyn said… they’re jsut gonna switch us ATOMATICALLY??? AHHH!

    So THAT must be what that little “you have updates” tag is in my taskbar. I’ve been ignoring it for a few weeks now. Boooo!

    And what’s the copy and paste frustration?

    Arg! Too much! It’s TOO MUCH!!!!

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