“What have you done with the humans?”

Technical assistants, technicians, tech support, IT guys (they tend to be men), techies – whatever you want to call them – they are a prickly bunch, don’t you think? (And if you happen to be one of the above, then please do read on, because I’ve got some advice of my own for you.)

There is the classic cliche that springs to mind of course – that of the arrogant, anti-social, patronising (male) individual with a raging God complex. To boot, they often throw in some unpalatable sarcasm and speak unhelpfully fast (if at all). If you’re lucky they will be into death metal, and will demonstrate this to you by wearing a silly t-shirt – annoying but inoffensive. If you are unlucky they will be obsessed with designer labels, but the only the kind of you get in Debenhams so your eyes will be assaulted by tiny men on horses and laurel leaves.

Yes this is cruel, but I am not sorry – because in my experience I have found these caricatures to be totally true and their lack of customer service skills totally frustrating and downright unprofessional. My experience of the Genius Bar, in particular, has scarred me to this day. There is not enough time, space or point for me to go into what is so wrong with the whole Genius Bar concept. But come on, the name – what is with the name?! Patronising, tick. God complex, tick.

I’d anticipate a person working as a so-called genius to be incredibly sharp, able to hold a conversation and damn clever. What I in fact received (three times) was poor customer service from an idiot who did not look me in the eye once and obviously hadn’t listened to a word I’d said about my faulty iPod. Apparently my penchant for pirate music had caused it to give up and die.

Listen, there is nothing clever about poor customer service. I do not deserve to have a pair of eyes rolled at me because of my taste in music (which, by the way, is entirely legal).
Or do I? Is it actually terrible that, considering I’m closer in age to being a digital native than a digital immigrant, I have practically zero IT skills?
I would love to have learned more when I was younger – oh, to have learned code! But in my obligatory IT ‘lessons’ in the late nineties we rolled up paper into balls and talked about boys. And now I rely on other people’s WordPress templates and young men with no manners.
I’m obviously jealous – I’d love to have a specialist subject.  A real skill, and a useful one at that. But I’ve got just one piece of advice for you, techies, to make it better for the rest of us mere mortals – don’t be so arrogant as to tell us switching it off and on again won’t work. IT DOES. I’m doing it all the time.

We recently welcomed a whole load of new technology into our lives, which is great. I’m typing on one of them now. But, inevitably, they stopped working one day – all of them, at once, stopped connecting to our (also new) wifi. After much wasted time and talking aloud and swearing we just switched everything off and on again – and lo and behold, it worked. (Well, we did this four times before it worked. And we also removed a rogue cable…but that’s a similar thing…)

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It reminded me how massively stressful it is, more so than it should be, when technology doesn’t work. We go into meltdown along with our laptop. Surely our bodies not working should deserve at least the same level of focus? We’ll happily run to the Genius Bar – queue to get in, for God’s sake – for advice, but we put off going to the doctor for weeks, months and even years.

The more I think about it, this God complex that hovers over the techie fraternity’s probably isn’t so truly ridiculous as I first argued. When you consider how reliant we all are on our technology now maybe they have a right to all this arrogance. When they save our laptop they are also, in a small way, saving our own lives. Well, restoring our mental health at least.

The techies are our new gods. Doctors for our devices. We’ll just have to put up with them.

It’s a shame, though, we can’t just turn them off and back on…*

* I’m not saying techies are robots…honest

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