“I’m always worried I’m going to blow something up”

by on Aug.07, 2012, under technology, thoughts

For the past two summers, I’ve worked at a level 1 tech support job at my college. For those unfamiliar with this jargon, this means that I’m the person who sits at the help desk, and attempts to help out anyone who comes into the desk, or calls the phone, or e-mails us. Technically speaking, it’s a pretty simple job, as we do some basic troubleshooting, then bump any issues up to level 2 if we determine we need to fix something in person.

Today, I was on the phone with someone, and they inadvertently reminded me of the difference between “technical” people and “non-technical” people.

The phone call was simple: Gmail brought up a page reporting that the person’s browser was out of date because they were using Internet Explorer. I suggested that he install Chrome, as it is a faster and more secure web browser, and now our “officially supported” browser, and proceeded to walk him through the installation.

And when I say walk him through the installation, I mean walk him through every step of the installation. Every button he should click, when he should click them, etc. During this process, he explained to me why he was asking for my help at every step of the process:

I’m always worried I’m going to blow something up.

So, this is the difference between “tech” people and “non-tech” people: the non-tech people think that if they click a wrong button, their computer will either explode, or stop working permanently. The tech people have opened their computer to find that no explosives are contained within.

One of the things I enjoy doing is breaking my operating system. I use Ubuntu Linux as my main operating system, and regularly do stupid things that might be considered destructive. But that’s OK — I know that I can always get my data, and I enjoy going through the processes of figuring out what went wrong, and how to fix it.

In a word, I’m fearless when fixing computers: I know that if I click the wrong button, there’s always a way to go back or undo whatever I just did. Sometimes, this is as simple as clicking a “back” or “undo” button. Sometimes it’s a bit more involved, but that’s OK! Because it means I’m going to learn what doesn’t work, and possibly learn something more about my operating system while I attempt to fix what’s broken.

If there’s one piece of advice I can give to non-tech people, it’s this: don’t be afraid to click buttons. Seriously. Most buttons you press are not going to permanently destroy your software. If you’re worried about losing data, make a backup of whatever file you’re working, then click buttons to your hearts content!

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