I am a self-confessed technophobe. Alongside being a chocoholic, cake lover, football enthusiast and Harry Potter nerd! This isn’t the best news when your relatively new job mainly consists of computer work with large data bases and online login’s. I used to have a fear of photocopiers, especially the ones with build in printers and scanners with multiple drawers and flashing lights, as I’ve never properly been shown how to use one. Because of this, I would simply avoid them like plague on steroids. Thankfully I have now banished this slightly embarrassing, yet highly amusing fear, as using these devices is part of my daily work life.
For as long as I can remember I have always struggled to pick up new technological processes and routines. This could partly be because I am part of that generation who remember the days before the ‘technological revolution’. Prior to this, I have childhood memories of getting our first family computer, mobile phones the size of bricks, owning a black and white TV and the Gameboy Colour being released to world. In the modern era, society has exploded with ground-breaking labour and time saving devices including satnavs, smartwatches and 3D printers to name a few. Although some are more obscure and ‘whacky’ than others all have their benefits and uses.
How does this relate to dyslexia I here you ask. I’ve been pondering this post for several months now; allowing my thoughts and ideas to mull over. Crucially I do strongly believe that my dyslexia contributes to me being a technophobe. I have stressed before in my previous blogs that I have particular difficulty with memory. I can become easily overwhelmed and upset if I don’t understand or can’t remember something. In an attempt to combat this, I have to make written, step-by-step instructions when completing new tasks. In addition, I usually have to be shown new programmes or devices and individuals may need to talk through the steps with me multiple times. When using technological devices I find all the various screens, menus and buttons you can click highly confusing.
Because I find these confusing and I then don’t understand what is presented to me on the screen. For me some of the most infuriating websites and programmes are Google Maps, online banking sites, train ticket booking websites and Microsoft Excel. When using these I often get muddled and stressed as there is may too much on the screen for me to process at once. This includes too many numbers, such as ticket prices, words and symbols as well as too many buttons for different settings, additions and extras. Moreover, when using these websites or programmes the various buttons seem to move and change place on each occasion when I attempt to use them; adding to the confusion and uncertainty. Ultimately I struggle with sequencing. Knowing what to click on and where to go when I’m transferred to the next screen.
Consequently, because I struggle to understand and remember instructions I am reluctant to try and learn new things. If I can’t do something I get despondent, especially if I know have used that programme, app or website correctly before. Furthermore there are also the feelings of embarrassment, fear and ridicule when I get stuck, do something wrong or have to ask for help when using a programme I find tricky. To be totally honest I have no idea how I learnt to use SPSS for three years at university! This remains a stonewall mystery to me. Given I was born prior to the technology boom I perceive myself as quite a traditionalist. I prefer handwriting over typing, despite the fact that I can’t read my own handwriting half the time, and talking face-to-face rather than via text, phone or email. I do wonder, and would be highly interested to discover, if other fellow dyslexics experience the same feelings of sheer bloody terror whenever they are presented with new equipment or software to use. It could merely be that being a technophobe and a dyslexic is a bad combination. Nonetheless, a bit of societal digging and investigation could uncover whether this area of life can be influenced, possibly without one realising, when considering the impacts of dyslexia.