I have recently realized why there are so many computer illiterate people running around. It's not that people are simply stupid - that's a grossly judgemental answer that many of my fellow geeks unfortunately arrive at. That's not it at all, because computer illiteracy reaches into technical fields. I know several computer science professors that simply can't use technology newer than 5 years old.

So, what causes this, if not simply "they're dumb"? Fear. Technology is mysterious; most people, when confronted with something unfamiliar, are uncomfortable. It feels like some delicate piece of magic; if they touch it too hard, it might shatter.

The consequence of this fear is that, once gripped by it, people start assuming they *can't* learn anything about computers; it's too arcane. So, when presented with technical terms or ideas, they stumble over them. If the technophobe stopped to think about the idea they are grappling with, they'd probably figure it out pretty quickly. But their mind won't do that, computers are "too complicated" for anyone like them to figure out.

An example: USB flash drives. Even most technophobes know what floppy disks are, but when you tell them this is similar, except it connects to that rectangular plug on the side of their computer, they give a blank stare. They can't comprehend it because it's new.

A better example: If presented with two products that very clearly do the same thing, but are made by different companies, the technophobe will invariably ask "what's the difference between these two?" If you showed them a Dirt Devil and a Hoover, they would have no such problem, but computers are *mysterious*, afforded a special class of untouchability.

So, to all you technophobes out there: Stop being afraid of the computer. I promise it won't bite. Engage your mind and really *listen* when computer jargon floats by. Make intuitive leaps; even if they're wrong, they'll eventually point you in the right direction.