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Network World - OK, I've been being nice for years about "users" ... but, no more; I'm about done with people who are willingly and willfully stupid about computers.
And by users I don't just mean people who don't work in IT; I mean anyone who uses a computer with less understanding of what they are doing than the average 10 year old has of personal hygiene. (I was tempted to refer to these people as "lusers" but I'll probably be getting enough hate mail for this column as it is so pretend I never even thought of using that term.)
The user category encompasses a huge subset of people who use (abuse?) computers with less skill than they apply to getting dressed in the morning, and this probably includes your parents, your aunts and uncles, most of your friends, most of your siblings, and most people over 30.
Now that isn't to say that there aren't loads of people who know that there isn't an "any" key, but let's be honest, those who aren't in the user subset are the rare exception.
So what is it about these users that distinguishes them? It's simple: They won't learn. Despite being members of modern society they think possessing computer skills is an option like being able to speak French or cook a soufflé.
They have set the bar of their digital literacy really, really low and so seem to think that competence with things digital is an option akin to not being able to perform brain surgery or argue with Stephen Hawking.
These folks seem to have some odd idea that when (not "if") the whole messing with computers thing gets too complicated for them then you, the guy/gal who has a clue (and must have nothing better to do), will do it for them! It won't matter if you've got better things to do than spend most of your weekend migrating their wretched collection of misbegotten applications (mostly crappy games) from their creaking Windows XP box to their brand new Windows 7 machine and then try to explain why nothing works properly, that's your job as far as they are concerned.
And worst of all, it would appear that they believe when they throw up their hands and proclaim that it's all completely impossible for them to deal with whatever mess they've made, whatever corner they've backed themselves into, or whatever pile of ba-doo they've created, someone (you) will magically appear to make up for the fact that they just can't be bothered to read the bleepin manual!
Isn't that right? How often have one of your friends or relatives called you up and more-or-less demanded that you solve their computer problems right away? If you were a car mechanic or a dentist would they expect you to drop everything and put in an appearance because they couldn't remember how to switch on the turn indicators or forgotten how to put toothpaste on their toothbrush? Of course not!
And what really chaps our collective IT butts is that these people - our friends and our nearest and dearest - act like it's no big deal!