Monday, 5 August 2013

Ignorance as a virtue?

I was in the pub last night, (I'll just pause for a second there to wait for all my loyal readers who have fainted in shock to regain consciousness) having a few quiet drinks with some friends of mine.  There was a lady there whom, allegedly I had never met before.  Although, you know when you get that feeling that you know someone, but can't remember where from?  I kinda got that feeling, although she denied all knowledge. I suppose, in fairness she isn't the first woman to do that, and I dare say she won't be the last.

She was the wife of a neighbour of some friends of mine from Church and I'm sure that she won't mind me saying that she is approaching retirement age.  We were discussing myriad subjects, including 70's soap opera based comedy, genealogy and how visiting sites in Germany that the RAF bombed during the war can make you feel a teensy bit guilty.

Anyway, as it so often does, because I am a ceaseless self-publicist, the conversation came around to this Blog.  Quick as a flash, the Dear Lady said 'Oh, are you a Blogger? What sort of things do you blog about?'

Now, I wasn't expecting this at all, I was expecting the much more popular 'What's a Blog?' or some derivation of it at least.  But I swallowed my surprise and brought out my phone, with the freshly printed cover that has the homepage address on it, she typed the address into her smartphone, favourited it and said 'I'll have a look at that tomorrow' (And if you are doing, welcome to the Chimping Dandy! It was a pleasure talking with you)

This got me thinking, I've been working in I.T. for nearly thirty years now, and do you know what the phrase I've heard more often than any other is? It's 'How long have you been under my desk? / Stop looking up my skirt.' Actually... That doesn't exactly capture the premise I was after... How about 'Did you mean to unplug my computer and lose all my work?' No... Not that either... Ah!... Here we are...

'Well, I don't know anything about computers!' usually said in a proud voice, followed by a laugh, as if implying that people who do know about computers are to be looked down upon and soundly mocked for being slightly effeminate and not very good at football.

Has it always been fashionable to be ignorant about things?  I don't just mean about computers, you can hear people say the same thing about their cars: 'Oh, I don't even know where the oil goes!' Guffaw-guffaw-guffaw, or mobile phones 'You put your number in for me, I've no idea how this thing works!' Haw-haw-haw, or 'Can someone load this machine-gun please? I don't even know which end to look down.' Ha-ha-Click-BANG!-sirens

Traditionally, before Women's Suffrage, when we had an Empire and the map was a resounding pink colour there were only two kinds of people who were expected not to know how to do things.  One group were people from the new colonies, because they hadn't yet been taught English, Christianity or how to use cutlery and suchlike and the other was women, because... Well... They were delicate flowers, who were to be protected at all costs, from life's little realities.  I mean some of those Ladies were apt to suffer conniptions and take to their beds for a month if they ever found out that things like sewers even existed, never mind what would happen if you suggested that they get the rods out and give it the old repetitive thrusting clungey movements.

But nowadays, we've all achieved a kind of equality, men are as good at things as women, white people and 'people of colour' are equally able and valid, disabled people can, with the correct mechanical assistance, for the most part be as active as people who have the complete unfettered use all their extremities. Yet I still have people coming up to me and saying things like 'To save a document I've typed, do I press the button with a picture of a floppy disk on it, or the one with a picture of a shredder being eaten by Godzilla with the words "Delete Document" in Flashing red letters five inches tall underneath it?'  When I answer 'Which do you think?' They think for a second and say 'I don't really know, I don't know anything about computers... Ha-ha-ha.'

Then I hit them with a shovel kept specifically for that purpose.

I've got absolutely no problem with people who don't know how to do things, no-one knows how to do everything and asking is definitely the right thing to do in that situation, but don't be proud of being ignorant, don't wear your lack of experience as a badge of honour.

Don't make out that you're too cool, or too old, or too young, or too important to know how do do something relatively simple.

It makes you sound like an idiot.

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