If you used to joke about how your kids had to set the clock on your VCR, you could be suffering from a condition called technosis ignoramus.
This is a common condition, and treatment is rarely required. In fact, most of the population suffers flare-ups from time to time. I count myself among them.
But it’s not the kind of thing you usually want to trumpet in public. Most of us suffer in silence, or bring it up very discreetly in quiet whispers, such as leaning to the person next to you and asking, “Which button turns on the Internet again?”
We can’t expect all of our politicians to be completely up on new technology.
Many of them grew up in the era of dial phones and party lines. To them, a selfie might sound like some species of aquatic animal.
But we can reasonably expect those who don’t know how these things work — who can’t tell a SIM card from a breath mint — to keep a low profile when such topics arise.
Not so with Darin King, who rose in the House of Assembly last spring to admonish NDP member Gerry Rogers for being linked to a Facebook site she didn’t even know she was linked to.
For that, the equally techno-challenged Speaker, Ross Wiseman, kicked her out of the House. Wiseman later apologized. King has yet to do so.
Fellow minister Kevin O’Brien also suffers from techno shock when it comes to “Google boxes” and “Twitter boxes,” as he once called them.
In fact, modern technology so spooks O’Brien that he doesn’t think these mysterious online lurkers should even be voting in elections.
“People who don’t know what’s going on, voting for people they don’t know, is not appropriate,” he said in last spring’s issue of Municipal News.
He was referring to e-voting, that ominous idea that those out-of-touch Users of Computers don’t know what’s really happening in their communities. Perhaps they’re all playing “Minecraft” or hacking into the Pentagon instead of, oh, I don’t know, following the news?
The paranoia over e-voting came to a head last week, when St. John’s Coun. Wally Collins raised the spectre of planes falling out of the sky because some numbskull pushed the wrong button.
Here’s his increasingly famous take on the subject:
“I think too much can go wrong. I think hackers can get into it. You take even that airplane that was lost 10 days ago, down in Malaysia. Nobody knows what happened to that, if they turned on the buttons or turned off the buttons, right? All this is subject to hackers and I don’t agree with it. The way the system is now, there’s nothing wrong with it, as far as I’m concerned.”
This attitude towards new media is very troubling — especially since some politicians seem to have a poor understanding of old media as well.
While everyone was wondering who kicked the media out of a “public” meeting last week, St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe was unwittingly showing his hand to former Telegram photographer Gary Hebbard.
In a reply to a complaint from Hebbard about barring the media, O’Keefe essentially argued that the “public” sessions were somehow more open because recording equipment wouldn’t be allowed.
I won’t quote the exchange here, but it takes an odd twist of logic to equate banning media with openness.
Some, like O’Keefe, have protested that many people are afraid of showing up on the news. With all due respect, what level of fear do these people have?
Are they OK with 10 people, or 100, or 1,000? It’s a foolish equation. Public is public, and that means if it’s important to a larger audience, the media should be there.
By the way, if you don’t like having a microphone shoved in your face, why not write a letter or call city hall?
Better yet, email your concerns directly to those in charge.
That is, if you know how to use that email box.
Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s
commentary editor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.