In 1983, when the other 6th graders were starting to get Atari™ consoles, I actually had a desktop computer at home to program and create my own games. No one I knew had a computer in their home for several years. When the other kids were outside playing baseball, I was at home reading books about programming code and trying to teach myself COBOL, BASIC, and PASCAL.
When I was in high school (1985-1989), I really wanted to be able to take computer classes. Some of the larger schools were starting to offer them, but I went to a small country school that just couldn't afford a computer lab. My junior year, the school board gave myself and five other students the opportunity to leave school after lunch and drive to a local community college for computer classes. Because we were missing the entire afternoon at the high school, we had to take a few other classes at the college as well. It was great to be 16 and sitting in college classes getting college credit. By the time I graduated high school, I had a year of college already out of the way.
After two years of computer classes and all the extra self-teaching I had done at home, when I actually started college that year, they offered me a job in the computer lab to help struggling students. At 17 years old, I was assisting the computer professors with their hardware issues and fixing computers on campus. Occasionally, in class a professor would defer a student's question to me to answer. I knew computers and my professors knew there were no classes on the campus that would actually extend my knowledge on the subject.
Despite all this, I did not pursue a career in computer technology. Plus, I really wasn't into the whole college thing yet and let most of my other classes slip. I was more interested in playing cards in the college Oasis than going to class. Over 20 years have passed since then and technology has exploded in growth. My computer knowledge has not even begun to keep up. For people who are in that field, it is almost a full-time job to just keep up with technology.
While I believe that I still probably have a little more know-how than the average computer user, I do not know anywhere near as much as everyone seems to think I know. Because I still live in the same area as where I grew up, people still remember me as the computer whiz kid. I'm having a very difficult time getting people to understand that it's just not true anymore and hasn't been for a long time. If someone has a problem syncing their iPhone 5 to their webmail, they don't ask for the advice of a telephone lineman who retired in 1978, they go to someone who is in that field today…or the nearest twelve year old.
I get phone calls to fix computer issues all the time. Half of the time, I have no idea what can fix a problem and when I can do it, people pay me to do things could actually be done by your average teenager. Things have just changed too much in the last couple of decades and I haven't kept up. Luckily, there are a lot of people older than me who are even further behind.
While I may not be able to come over and write Linux kernel patches for you, create Web 2.0 engines, or do 3D render engine optimizations, I will be happy to take your money for installing your printer while you tell me how brilliant I am.
Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,968 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.
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