Have you ever heard of technophobia? I had, but for years I thought it was a joke. It turns out it’s real. Here’s the proof – I googled ‘technophobia’ and found this dictionary entry.
Part 1 – Me, the Technophobe: I’ve joked for years about being one, but I never knew it was a real thing, until I started putting this post together.
My latest journey as a technophobe started last May, in 2022. My husband bought me a new computer because my old one was so bad it took 20 minutes to log on. Every single time. Really!
But as a technophobe, I put up with all those minutes from May until August because I thought it was easier than navigating a new one. Finally in August I hit bottom zooming with my critique group. That’s my lifeline to other writers, to polishing my words. That’s when I finally started learning to use my new computer.
Thank goodness! I have my own tech expert – my husband. He got me through most of the changes in August. They weren’t as big as I imagined. It’s true – fear is worse than the things you’re afraid of. My email changed a little. I have two different addresses. Now they show up on the same program. It’s lovely!
My internet changed a lot! I had to put my favorite sites on the new internet. I also had to re-enter my password information, but my husband held my hand and got me through it, in August.
The biggest thing I use is Microsoft Word, and the only thing that changed is the way I do screenshots. The new way uses the snipping tool. I didn’t want to figure it out, so I found a way to paste the snip, and I was back in business, in August.
OOPS! I almost forgot, the cloud. YUCK! My husband made me learn how to use it. I didn’t want to. It took a lot of time to transfer my files to the cloud. But now that it’s done, I’m glad I made the change. Mostly because when I get the next computer, and I will, all my files will be in the cloud, waiting for me. That’s a very good thing, even if it took until September.
The only thing I haven’t figured out yet . . . is Scrivener. It’s a program I used a lot six years ago, but not so much now. The biggest problem – they updated the program, and I don’t want to learn the new one. I track my blog ideas and posts on Scrivener. It was a really small change, but tracking the books I sell, that’s harder! Even on my old computer I had to copy, then paste it into Word. I just did it for the last time. Now I’ll do all my tracking on Microsoft Word.
There’s still one thing I haven’t figured out . . it’s the email list for my newsletter. I’ve been going the long way around, writing my email on the new computer. I save it as a draft. Then I go on the old one. I copy and paste my Scrivener email list onto the draft. Then I click send. It’s the long way around, but eventually I’ll figure it out. Somehow, maybe tomorrow. Maybe next month ☹
Part 2 – What the Experts Say: The Cleveland Clinic says clinicians should treat technophobia like a specific phobia. That means like an irrational fear – of a situation, an object, an animal, or of an interaction. The risk from technology doesn’t match up with the real danger. Computers rarely hurt you, but being afraid could stop you from doing something that makes your life easier.
When you’re forced to use technology, here are some of the symptoms you might have.
It looks like I’m a bit of a technophobe, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It is more common with older people, like me. They cited a study of age and internet use. It said . . .
If you have extreme anxiety – you might feel breathless, dizzy, faint, flushed, sweaty, or nauseous. Your heart might even beat faster. Mine doesn’t – I have milder symptoms.
My Source: Technophobia: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment (clevelandclinic.org)
If you have a mild case like me, VeryWellMind.com suggests a few strategies to help you cope:
1. Ask for help. I do – my husband. He’s a techie. You could ask a friend or relative for help. Kids are great at technology.
2. Take a class. I did as a teacher, and now as a writer. I took one to help me do my weekend videos. Look at your library, Y, or community college. They might have a class that’s a good fit for you.
3. Set goals. If you’re getting a tablet or cell phone, think tiny steps, like turning it on, or making a phone call, or taking pictures. Keep it simple and easy. Don’t forget to keep a coach around for back-up.
If you have severe symptoms that interfere with your life, see the doctor. They can help you with fear and anxiety.
1. Cognitive Behavior Therapy will help you identify negative thoughts. Then your therapist can help you replace them with positive ones. They’ll help you cope with your fears.
2. Exposure Therapy is all about exposing you to the thing you’re afraid of. Your anxiety will slowly disappear.
3. Medications can be prescribed to work with the therapy you’re doing. They work together. My Source: Technophobia: Definition, Symptoms, Traits, Causes, Treatment (verywellmind.com)
Part 3 – When Did Technophobia Start? Believe it or not, it wasn’t at the dawn of computers. Would you believe its roots are in the Industrial Revolution? That’s when machines started taking jobs from skilled tradesmen. Factory owners could hire the unskilled, for much less.
Tradesmen, like weavers, started worrying about their jobs, their families. In 1675 some of them banded together to destroy the machines that were destroying them. By 1727 the financial losses made the British Parliament create a new law. Destroying machines was now a crime, worthy of the death penalty.
But it didn’t stop the problem – it didn’t solve it either. In the 1800’s the weavers found a name to use, Ned Ludd. He’s the weaver’s version of Robin Hood. No one’s sure whether Ned or Robin were real, fictional, or a combination of both.
The new group, the Luddites, robbed important parts from knitting frames. They stole supplies. They wanted trade rights, but they also threatened destruction. In 1812, Parliament had enough. They passed The Frame Breaking Act. The penalty – execution, or a ticket to Australia’s penal colonies. This time the destruction stopped.
Do you recognize this face? It’s from a story written by Mary Shelley in 1818. The title – Frankenstein! This version is a photo taken to promote the 1935 movie, The Bride of Frankenstein. The actor – Boris Karloff. If you love horror movies, you know his name.
Mary Shelley visited Europe in 1815. She traveled along the Rhine, stopping in Gernsheim, eleven miles from Frankenstein Castle. That’s where 200 years earlier an alchemist had done some experiments. It stirred her imagination.
In 1816 Mary and two famous British writers, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, decided to have a contest – to write the best horror story. Evidently Mary won, at 18. Her story is a classic. Remember the alchemist and his experiments? She mixed them together, added a monster, and brought it to life. The result – horrifying! Technophobia strikes again!
BTW – women weren’t supposed to be writers so Mary’s name didn’t appear in the first edition, but it was in the second and all those that followed.
That’s how technophobia started, but it hasn’t stopped. From pasteurization to evolution, electricity and the telephone. Through the discovery of uranium to nuclear bombs, leaded gas and pollution, the hole in the ozone layer and global warming. Are you feeling anxious yet?
Those things make my computer worries seem small. I can’t control the future or its inventions, but I can control my computer, and eventually my address problem. Here’s to the future, to taking care of what I can, and letting the rest go. I’m a Christian, so I trust in God, and in his plans.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!