High Tech and High Anxiety

Some folks are technologically astute; some of us are technologically challenged.

I hate electronics. I hate computers, smart phones, Face book, VCR’s, DVD players, DVR’s, Blue Tooth, Blue Ray, IPods, GPS, or anything that has more than an on/off switch and volume control.  As a professional speaker I create PowerPoint presentations all over the world, and inevitably something goes wrong! I have been in so many convention halls, auditoriums and sanctuaries where everything works perfectly fine for whoever presents before me or after me. But as soon as I am introduced, a number of things will happen: the battery to the wireless mic goes out, the overhead projector turns black, the sound is distorted, the wrong PowerPoint show is displayed, and the electricity has even gone off before! “Why me?” I ask. 

My husband who now travels with me as my “Techie” and solves all of these problems swears I have some sort of magnetic field embedded in my body. Anything electrical can and will fail in my presence. I guess because I came into the computer age complaining, somehow it became my enemy. We switched over to computer grading at Lindbergh High School where I was teaching sometime back in the late nineties. It was a godsend for my fellow teachers and colleagues, and I was very happy for them. But for me, it became my nemesis. It was out to kill, steal and destroy me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for technology. I remember the old days of TV antennas, no air-conditioning, and all the other remembrances of Baby Boomers. But it is a love/hate relationship. As soon as I have embraced a new software program, or gone digital, it rears its snarling head, shows it fangs and bites me in various parts of my anatomy.

I have totaled twelve cars, broken nine simple appliances, lost or left behind seven cameras, three video cameras, two iPods and an electrical partridge in a pear tree. Everyone laughs when they see any of my cameras, watches, laptop parts or  cords, all with an identification tag and phone number that my husband has taped, glued or stapled somewhere to every item I own. Perhaps it is my adult ADHD that distracts me, or that I have too many proverbial “irons in the fire” or perhaps my real FOE – Fear of Electronics. However, I have good cause for the fear! I have had an amusement park ride stop in the midst of me swinging at the top; I have set off our home burglar alarm too many times to count; I have had to call maintenance in every hotel or motel I have ever stayed in – even on cruise ships.  IT workers rue the day they see me coming.

We all have our little idiosyncrasies; I have “idiot-insycrasies.”  I have come to the conclusion that just as one following a twelve step program, I must first admit that I am powerless over electronics.  I need to go to a power greater than myself – my husband, the AV personnel, an IT man, the Geek Squad, one of my students or younger relatives. My ten year old nephew laughs at my incompetency, but he didn’t even know what a record player and an eight track tape player were. So there!



I admit my need for technical knowledge. I have PowerPoint for Dummies in my lap with every speech I write. I compose my books and songs on “Word” while my husband does the formatting. As I type this article right now, I will not be panicked if it simply disappears before my conclusion. I have reconstructed a 100 slide PowerPoint in Dallas the morning of my speech because I didn’t understand the stupid question, “Do you want to save the changes you have made?” I didn’t want to save the changes, but I DID want to save my presentation. I spend hours a day at the computer and today was a good day. My husband only had to erase all of the viruses once today. And I only accidentally omitted two important e-mails he was able to retrieve.

So call me incompetent, technologically challenged, or even phobic; but you must also congratulate me for making it to the end of this article. So before I get a little too cocky and feel that I have mastered the beast, I will move to the 4th step of my 12 step program, making amends to those I have hurt. I apologize to every GPS I have angrily ripped off the dash, every camera I have gleefully sold or given away, and every computer or office equipment piece I have smacked and called bad names. Somehow I know they sense my hypocrisy and will be out to get me somehow. So I end this article while I am still

Dr. Debra Peppers, a professional speaker for 25 years, is one of only five inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, which followed her retirement from Lindbergh High School. A member of the National Speakers Association, she has traveled to all 50 states and 60 countries teaching others that if she can go from being a 250-pound high school dropout, to Teacher of the Year there is hope for every child and adult. Her web site is www.pepperseed.org.

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