Do Computer Illiterate People Scare You?

My post title might make you believe I'm going to bash non-techies, or maybe I'm trying to be funny. But I'm dead serious. Thinking about people that don't use computers scares me. Literally. Let me explain.

Most of you know that I'm a ColdFusion programmer. I make a pretty good living with this career, and I'm generally happy. However, I just finished reading an article that mentioned a reporter who only started using computer a few years ago. Think about that. A few years ago, we had already gotten past the dot com boom, and the ensuing bubble burst. Kids were learning PCs from a very young age at school. Some of us lived and breathed computers (I know I did...and I still do). And yet here was this report happily ignoring the PC/Internet revolution, writing articles on his beloved typewriter.

So what's so scary about that? The fact that he DIDN'T NEED A COMPUTER. And there are hundreds of thousands of other people in the world just like him. They happily go about their life, working, feeding their kids, going to church, all without ever touching a computer. And that kind of scares me.

To me, computers are a central, fundamentally important part of my life. But what does that say about me when all those people out there don't ever use nor need a computer? Somebody tell me I am not going insane here...because this thought is very surreal, and quite disturbing.

You're not insane but they just might be. Well, my 86 year old grandmother is not nutts even though she doesn't use a computer. But for other people, I just don't get it. I can remember balancing my check book by hand. Not hard but not exciting. Now with Quicken in the same amount of time I also know what I'm spending all my money on & how much I have saved. I'm just not doing part of the work for one account but managing it all.

Keep in mind though there's a different between not using a PC and not using a computer. Did this report have a palm? A fancy cell phone? Things like that are computers.... just not PCs. I'm sure you realize that. Just throwing it out there because if he's not even using those things.

The article didn't really give a full technological profile of the reporter, it just said he used a typewriter until a few years ago.

But aside from people in /our/ society like this...what about people in 3rd world countries that don't really have a choice? They couldn't use a computer if they wanted to, because...well, for them they don't exist. That's what scares me.

Here I am, spending 10-12 hours a day on a computer (counting my hobbies at home), making a good living doing something that is extremely important to me. And yet there are people out there that wouldn't even know what a computer was if they saw it. Kinda freaks me out...
I don't know if they scare me, or the fact that I seem to be unable to live without it that scares me.

I've been going nuts not having an internet connection at home because the cable company is too slow - and for me, it's not worth turning on the computer unless I'm going to get online (in most cases)
I hear ya, Sammy. I guess that was my feeling too. It's the fact that I've become so dependent on them, that contemplating other people who don't need a computer kind of scares me. Because it sheds light on me in a disturing way.
I d'know... They don't scare me really. In some people's world a computer is simply used as tool to get a job done. I've never used a jack hammer, or a chain saw before but that's not too scary.

Maybe a better analogy: I have friends in New York and San Francisco who've never driven a car before. That's a bit odd, but they've just never had a need.

I am sure people who are computer illiterate have used a computer in some way (like to look up a book in a library for example), but their day to day life just doesn't require access to the net or hours and hours of screen time (or maybe hadn't until now).

It is out of the ordinary for us who've lived our lives on the net, but I don't think it's that scary or odd - in fact, in some ways I admire them.
I think both options have their merit...

For me the trouble is when the two worlds collide. My mother uses the newspaper to look up movies, and the phone book to look up businesses. In my house, we do all of that through the myriad of connected computers and devices. When mom is visiting our home then, and the topic of a movie or the hours of the nearest miniature golf comes up, she feels powerless and out of place. I feel bad for her.

That's not to say that she doesn't use a computer, in fact, as my inbox will show, she knows how to use email quite well. She just never made the move to use the computer as a tool/utility, simply as a quicker way to communicate with family (evolution of the postal service for her). The phone book and newspaper just haven't evolved for her yet. My four-year-old daughter on the other hand has already taken computer classes, and knows how to access and watch a movie from the iPhone.
My mother doesn't even know where the power button is on the tower. My aunts and uncles however, use their computer quite regularly. It is interesting to see the differences between their thinking habits, as using the computer has the ability to enlighten or otherwise expand one's perception of things.

She is an uptight, everything must be clean, highly stressed, nothing is ever good enough type of person.

My aunts and uncles are, laid back, understanding, take things in stride and one step at the time, without freaking out over the smallest inconvenience.

Using the computer and internet changed their views... They used to be the way my mother is.

There are so many ways to learn about EVERYTHING on the internet. So it scares me too that some people often shy away from a computer. Almost like they are scared of learning something they shouldn't, Like it's some kind of sin. But if you ask me learning about the world around you and how things that happen to you often happen to everyone else, that you're not alone in your issues, or trials, is pretty helpful to me, and to others I am fairly sure.
Interesting comment, Trace. I agree that learning about things we are unfamiliar with can give us a more balanced perspective on life. I hadn't thought about it when it comes to learning computers though...