The new age superpower…

I was driving to work the other day listening to the radio, tuned to some kind of morning show with multiple hosts doing random banter and fart jokes when I heard something that made me very angry. I mean, not angry enough to actually call the radio station or do anything about it. Ultimately I don’t really care, but it did push my button and so I’m posting about it here, a week or two later. It wasn’t anything offensive either. Just stupid. Unbelievably fucking stupid.

I don’t really remember what the conversation was about. But at some point one of the hosts said something among the lines of:

“You know, if I could have one superpower I would like to know all about computers and how they work inside, so I wouldn’t have to take mine to Geek Squad every few months”

I’m sorry… WHAT? I really felt like slapping the shit out of this guy. No you unbelievable, idiot! You imbecile! You moronic, intellectually stunted excuse for a human being. It is not a fucking superpower! Knowing “all about computers” is a skill you can learn. Dude, you can fucking google that shit! This is precisely that kind of attitude that makes identity theft so rampant, and malware industry so profitable.

You see, apparently it never actually occurred to this guy that he could learn this stuff. He could take a course. He could buy a book and read it. He could use the fucking God given FUCKING INTERNET and research it! Watch a youtube video about it! Fuck you, there is no excuse for this!

Not only this sentence uttered by a confused radio host is a perfect illustration of Clarke’s Third Law in action. It is also shows the deep anti-intellectual anti-learning sentiment running in our society. No one seems to believe in life-long self improvement process. No one even considers picking up new skills. Most people these days think that learning stops the second they get their college diploma. From there on, the only learning they will need to do is some on-job training – which falls under specialization rather than general self improvement and expanding ones own horizons. It’s both pathetic and terrifying.

You want to know about computers? Fucking learn. We live in a MOTHERFUCKING INFORMATION AGE people! Knowledge is just a mouse click away. Never in the history of our species have we had such an easy access to unrestricted information. Just about anything you ever wanted to know about anything is out there on the internet somewhere. All you have to do is look for it. Open your eyes. I am fucking appalled that given the state of our technology and easy of access to information, all I hear about all day is the cast of the Jersey Shore. Is this what we call civilization? Why the hell so many adult people choose to behave like intellectually stunted, self absorbed teenagers giggling at petty gossip and forgetting the rest of the world.

I understand that the world was always filled with idiots. Greatest achievements of each century are usually hard to spot when they happen, because they are drowned out by the barrage of the trivial and the stupid. They only become evident much later. But one would think that with our technology and our social equality things ought to be different. We should be a society of sages, scholars and intellectuals. We live in a day and age where even a lowliest blue collar laborer can access all of human knowledge we have collected and indexed up until now. Hell, I once knew a guy who was a roofer by day, ran a web hosting business by night, and was getting degree in philosophy in the evenings.

Seriously people, there is no reason to stop learning. There is no reason to limit yourself. If you suck at something, get off your ass, shut off your Jersey Shore and do something about it. If you don’t understand something, Google it. Computers are not magical. Science is not sorcery. Math is not arcane knowledge that is forbidden to mere mortals. All of this stuff is understandable. All of it can be learned. Fuck, you already know most of it. You took science and math in school – you had to. You also took probably took basic computer classes at some point in your life. It is all a matter of reinforcing what you already know, but managed to suppress and bury somewhere in your long term memory and then building upon it.

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19 Responses to The new age superpower…

  1. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Hahaha! This has got to be the best rant ever! As Homer would have put it, “It’s funny cause it’s true!”

    That woulda pushed my buttons too, and the one who would get an earful would be the ones closest to me at the time, usually the missus. :P

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  2. From the title I thought you were going to talk about a country, maybe about India or China since you said “new age”.

    It was my grandparents that instilled the idea of life-long self-improvement in me, at an early age. They used to take my sister, my cousin, and me to lots of museums when we were kids. I remember, while at one of those museums, being surprised when they told me that they had never stopped learning, which is why they enjoyed the museums so much themselves. Before that I thought “grown-ups” stopped when they finished school.

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  3. Adrian BELGIUM Google Chrome Windows says:

    I completely agree with you.

    Learning is essential to “being good with a computer”. The fact that we’re more adept at it then others is because of two things:
    – We have more experience, thus know how to use programs or read up to know what needs to be done.

    – We actually learn new things. We get to know the shortkeys, the menus, the underlying system, ..

    If people don’t have the first one, they need to research and learn (hence my second point). After time, they’ll build experience which leads to easier learning.

    The only thing those guys need is a start. As you said, a course or whatever is fine.

    Why not make every post-adolescent do an IT-course at his job or something alike? If you can’t properly work with a computer, you can’t be trusted to be 100% efficient, nor reliable at even a menial office job.

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  4. Rob UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux Terminalist says:

    I think my super power would be invisibility, but only if my clothes turned invisible too. I wouldn’t want to have to sit around naked.

    But yeah, Geek Squad is probably just as clueless as the radio host. Big waste of money there.

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  5. jambarama UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Luke, your super power must be the ability to identify idiocy wherever it lies.

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  6. Kevin Benko UNITED STATES Konqueror Linux says:

    Luke:

    Like others, I enjoy your rants, laughing about the mass of clueless people shambling about like the final scenes of a George Romero zombie movie.

    Then I actually find myself face-to-face with a real live example of what you had been ranting about. It is at that point that, in the words of Hank Hill, I don’t know whether to laugh or vomit.

    I know a guy that has a t-shirt that says:

    Yes, I know about computers.
    No, I won’t fix yours.

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  7. kmac JAPAN Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your post.

    The future of the world is troubling. People seem to be complacent with what they are fed from main stream media. They don’t feel the need to challenge anything on their own anymore.

    They think of every great mind or skill as a great superpower they they wish they could have. Like you said they don’t realize that this is something obtainable through work and perseverance.

    Uneducated people are gradually becoming more and more influential in society just because of their sheer numbers. I wish more people would challenge the way things work, and go out and learn more on their own time…

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  8. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Google Chrome Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Mart:

    Hey, at least she understands. Most of my closest family probably wouldn’t really know what am I getting so upset about. Well, maybe my brother and my cousin could somehow related on some distant level.

    @ Chris Wellons:

    I am a master of misdirection ;)

    @ Rob:

    See, I wouldn’t want to be invisible because then I wouldn’t be able to see anything. Think about it.

    @ jambarama:

    Actually we had this conversation after Watching X-Men 2 and we decided that if there was one power that we could have it would be Wolverine.

    Wolverine is a great power because it includes: rapid healing, super-slow aging, retractable claws, indestructible skeleton and awesome sideburns. Can’t go wrong with that.

    @ Kevin Benko:

    These T-shirts don’t work. I have one that says “No, I will not fix your computer” and everyone’s reaction to it is:

    “Oh, haha! Nice shirt. By the way, I have this computer problem and I was wondering if you could help me…”

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  9. Mart SINGAPORE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Kevin Benko:

    U mean this tee? http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/frustrations/388b/ :D

    @ Luke Maciak:

    Apparently, if you don’t know computers, you can’t read as well! :P

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  10. Ron NEW ZEALAND Mozilla Linux says:

    Its nice to know that other people see this in the same light. Personally couldnt imagine not learning something. Weither it be a new programming language/framework, some science or philiosphy, or just reading a book. In this regard I blame reality tv, youtube, and the pace that gossip can sperad via social networking.

    It reminds me of a quote by Ronald Reagon. “Why should we pay for intellectual curiosity” (Presumable in the context of research funding). Initiail reaction was of course todo with all the amazing inventions, and the understanding of universe thats orginated from such research, and wait for it jobs that where being/will be created by the resulting industry. The second was that, if he wasnt sure, does it mean he lacked that charatisitc?

    My views may be slanted by the face that my single mum, was going to University herself, while I was in primary school (I would have been 8-12) who now holds a bsc in biology. But even before then I enjoyed computers, math, science and reading. I really just cant understand why some people seem to fear those subjects.

    Is this all a complancy based on the rapid devlopment since the days of Gallileo and Newton? People thinking that technology today is enough, but preceding to buy the latest gadget they dont understand anyway?

    I think ive continued your rant long enough now.

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  11. Ron NEW ZEALAND Mozilla Linux says:

    One further thing, I wouldnt expect your average user to understand how LZW compression works or the difference between a microkernel and a monolithic kernel. But I would expect them no know the difference between, their ISP, google, their browser and their OS. Which seems to be the four misunderstood parts of computers.

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  12. Hector SPAIN Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Maybe the “superpower” here is the ability to learn? Curiosity? Because the problem is not only with computer il·literacy, is far broader. Like Chris Wellons says, you should never stop learning!
    And what alwasy surprises me the most is how people almost brag about knowing nothing about computers. In other fields they are equally clueless, but at least they’re a bit ashamed of it!

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  13. antonym CZECH REPUBLIC Mozilla Firefox Fedora Linux says:

    i study IT, but i have to admit that such superpower would be very nice – although absolute or photographic memory would be far better (not ordinary definition of superpower, but knowledge is a real (super)power) it would still save me a lot of work…

    And imho knowing all about computers is quite impossible these days – IT field grows so fast that knowing all about hardware, software engineering, signals and linear systems, automatas an formal languages, graphics, even be really skilled in more than say three programming languages (like that you won’t write C in Java syntax) and i dont know what else is more than one can do in lifetime… thats my 5c

    (excuse my english skills)

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  14. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Mart:

    Yep. That’s the shirt!

    @ Ron:

    Agreed, I wouldn’t expect them to know the details. But knowing the basics such as “why double clicking nood_picturez.exe attachment is a bad idea” would be nice.

    @ Hector:

    I hate that too. As if being computer illiterate was a badge of honor or something.

    @ antonym:

    What do you mean being skilled in more than 3 languages?

    I usually switch between PHP, Java, Python, C#, Perl and VB and Javascript. I also dabble in lisp, scala and ruby from time to time. Languages are just tools in your toolbox.

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  15. katoxidl CZECH REPUBLIC Google Chrome Linux says:

    Quite a few expressive words for a twitter-like message, man. Your ironic puns read better than this. This is just typing exercise not as well though out as usually.

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  16. antonym CZECH REPUBLIC Mozilla Firefox Fedora Linux says:

    @Luke:
    of course you program in more than one language, almost everyone (who can program) do… But how many of these languages did you really master? (like about which of these you could write book for advanced programmers).

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  17. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Luke Maciak wrote:

    Wolverine is a great power because it includes: rapid healing, super-slow aging, retractable claws, indestructible skeleton and awesome sideburns. Can’t go wrong with that.

    But if you’ve got to choose one, make sure you go with the mutant healing not the claws. Hey look a video about that.

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  18. Ronnie Collinson NEW ZEALAND Google Chrome Linux says:

    Well, the claws are not a power (unless the bone claws are cannon?), the power is the healing. The addamantium is man made enhancement allowed by the healing

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  19. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Matt`:

    LOL. Yeah, that was a good one. :)

    @ Ronnie Collinson:

    Yeah, I know. That was the joke. Most mutants in the X-men have a single power. Wolverine has the healing, AND the indestructible skeleton AND the retractable claws and etc… Even though not all these things are actual powers. And yet most people want to pick the exact Wolverine load out when asked what mutant power would they want.

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