After careful consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that computer technology was brought to us by aliens. There’s no other plausible explanation. No mere mortal could have developed this kind of technology on their own. I’m not claiming that the world’s foremost computer geniuses are aliens. They might be a little odd, but so are most writers. I believe that they were likely abducted by aliens in the dark of night, taken aboard a spaceship, had some kind of chip implanted in their brain and were then returned to their beds before anyone knew they were gone.
I’ve never had an alien encounter. I suspect my house has been blackballed so they don’t waste their time. This is my way of saying that I’m technically challanged. I’ve tried to overcome it. I’ve taken computer classes and spent most of my lab time with my hand up in the air. I think the instructors got frustrated with me because by the third week, they usually refused to look in my direction. Sadly, my lack of technical expertise doesn’t just apply to home computers. DVD and blue-ray players, TV remotes and smart phones have all been known to reduce me to tears. And don’t even think about asking me to install software.
It isn’t that I don’t appreciate all the advancements computer science has brought us. They have been life changing. I can type a few words, click my mouse, and as long as my laptop isn’t feeling overly cantankerous, access just about anything I want. And I can’t even imagine attempting to write a full length novel on an old fashioned typewriter. Skype and ooVoo made it possible for me to see and talk with my husband everyday while he was working on the other side of the world. And it was free! How cool is that? I adore Kodak EasyShare and Word and I have seperation anxiety if I go for more than twelve hours without checking my email. My laptop has become an integral part of my daily existence.
I have, however, resisted with every ounce of rebellion I possess, taking advantage of the computer technology known as social networking. Facebook, Twitter, blogs; just thinking about them can bring on an anxiety attack. But they are valuable tools in establishing an online presense. A couple of years ago, I was told that a writer needs an online presense before they’re even published. Agents and Editors expect it. I blew it off. It wouldn’t last. I didn’t need it. I’d find an agent who thought my novel was so outstanding, so riveting, so completely compelling that I didn’t need to bother with social networking. I didn’t understand the concept. I didn’t want to do it. Mostly, I didn’t know how to do it, so I didn’t. Definitely a mistake on my part.
After much prodding, I signed up with Facebook, but it was months before I even uploaded my photo. Another six months passed and I bought a copy of Facebook for Dummies. Did I hear your eyes roll? I know. We’ve been subjected to the whole (fill in the blank) for Dummies ad nauseam. There may be better books out there. I don’t know. I think it’s pretty good. I’m starting to get the hang of it. Kind of. I have been known to post a comment on someone’s wall when I meant to send it to their private email. And the photos I upload don’t always go where I want them to. I’m still learning. It’s a process.
Twitter was a tough one. It nearly sent me over the edge. The tweets I checked out looked like an alien language, which kind of reinforces the point I made earlier. I had no idea what to do with it. I was overwhelmed and wanted to quit. I didn’t, but I was close. My distress must have been obvious because my son asked me what was wrong. When I tearfully confessed I didn’t know how to use Twitter, he put his arm around me and said, “You’re not in this alone, Mom. We’re here to help you.” I’m pretty sure he sees my condition as some kind of a mental disorder. His compassion was sweet, but I knew he didn’t have the time or the patience, not to mention that he’s never twittered in his life. (Though to be fair, it will probably take him no more than twenty minutes to figure it out.) Determined to succeed, I challenged myself to beat back my fear and confusion and go forth into the wilderness. The following day I bought Twitter for Dummies. Again, I hear your eyes roll. I don’t care. I’m still struggling, but it’s helped and I’m sure it will help even more once I read it.
Then, there’s the blog. The name is off-putting, even scary. It sounds like a cross between blob and fog. But whatever it sounds like, writers need a blog. It’s imperative. I get that, now. And just about everybody does it. How difficult can it be? For me, difficult enough. Fortunately, I’ve had help. My friend, fellow writer and critique partner, Cynthia Robertson, has taken me by the hand and led me through the steps of setting up this blog. She’s also given me lots of pointers on using Twitter. She’s been great and I don’t know what I would have done without her help. But since I’d like to keep her as a friend and I don’t want her to get as frustrated with me as my college instructors, another trip to the bookstore or Amazon in the near future is likely. In the meantime, I’ll pray for an alien encounter.