Computer Literacy and the Hole People Dig Themselves Into


Written by Justin Escobales   |

What is computer literacy? Basically, it’s the ability to use a computer to do basic things, such as searching on Google, checking e-mail, and typing. Many people are not very computer literate. Not exactly illiterate, but not quite literate. They can turn it on and off, so I suppose that is a start. The problem is most people expect it to be very complex, but software companies are making it as brain-dead as possible (to the dismay of people who abhor mandatory help boxes). Most people just opt for not reading, but when people click buttons about things they don’t know, the result is often rage. That’s like expecting to get through chess without thinking. You will fail. HARD.

So how does one become computer literate? The first part is reading. Yes, that dreaded activity that nobody wants to do. Look, you did it in high school (hopefully). You hated it, but you did it. Just slow down. You can’t win a race without learning how to run, and you can’t use a computer without reading about what you are doing. Don’t just read the first couple of lines either. Read the whole little box when an error comes up. It’s only ever about three sentences. If it doesn’t make sense, do the most sensible thing you can think of, but don’t just close out every box you come by.

The next part is not assuming you don’t know anything.  Believe it or not, most things on the computer are quite simple. In fact, they are designed to be usable for people who have never used them before. The bulk of programs are point, click, repeat. Microsoft Office, for example. Point and click to run it. Type. Click save. Done. Sure there are programs that are harder to learn, but unless you are a programmer, you probably won’t be using them, and if you aren’t extremely computer literate, how are you a programmer? Like, seriously, that’s your job.

Really, the hole that a lot of people get stuck in is that they just cower from what they don’t quite understand. If you don’t understand your tool, learn to use it. You don’t see construction workers running from power saws. That would be silly. They learn to use them. It’s the same with computers.

Lastly, be sensible. Really, this shouldn’t be advice, but it is important. Just as in real life, you don’t take advice from just everybody. That would be stupid. It is stupid when you do it on the computer as well. For example, free isn’t always good. Free software usually isn’t good. In fact, it is usually malevolent or what we call ad-ware, which is software that constantly shows you ads or hijacks your settings. However, there is also good software for free. Audacity is a free recording software that I recommend to everybody. Just use good sense. You don’t take candy from strangers because there might be drugs or razors. You shouldn’t take software from strangers because they might ruin your experience.