"I don't know how to work this machine... Spending the nights alone, talking to yourself into an obvious Nazi machine. This is a Red China, Manchurian Candidate machine because I can't record anything, and when I do I automatically erase it."Technology is a very important aspect of modern life. From cellular phones to desktop computers to automated banking machines to cars, we have all kinds of mechanical and cybernetic gadgets that (at least for some of us) we can't imagine living without. But there are some persons who just don't understand technology. The newer or more mainstream it is, the more likely it is that such persons will be left totally bamboozled by it. This comes in two types: Type 1: Alice can't work her way around computers. Give her a cell-phone (especially of the very latest model), and she's clueless as to how it's supposed to work. Digital cameras leave her wondering how they're supposed to be used. She's bewildered by all the complicated technological stuff that others take for granted. If she makes an effort to use any technology despite her cluelessness (usually in an attempt to prove that she can in fact get the concept), very bad things happen. Type 2: Bob has a basic understanding of how a computer is supposed to work (meaning he can browse through folders, surf the Internet, et cetera), but disassemble the parts and challenge him to put it back together, and he's stuck in a rut. He knows the fundamentals of using a cell-phone (you dial numbers and communicate with others), but the various additional functions have him lost, especially if it's a model he's not used to. He knows how to drive a car and the basic fundamentals behind it (press the gas to go and the brake to stop, use the steering wheel to direct the car), but he's stumped when it comes to pinpointing specific engine parts or knowing what wires go where. In fiction, both types may be Played for Laughs, depending on the character and the situation. Compare Walking Techbane, which may wind up being the absolute worst-case scenario, Ludd Was Right, for those who don't like technology, thinking it's a hassle, Technologically Blind Elders, and Evil Luddite, who refuses to accept technology because of its perceived evil. Contrast Technopath and Gadgeteer Genius. When this trope is applied to advertising (usually for Rule of Funny), that's a form of Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket.
—Judy Garland battles a tape recorder, Judy Garland Speaks
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Anime & Manga
- Bleach: Volume 12's slice of life sketch covers the school's Handicraft Club trying to cope with sewing competitions while their two best sewers (Orihime and Uryuu) are off rescuing Rukia. When the club speculate about why the pair are uncontactable, someone suggests that Orihime doesn't own a mobile phone because she can't handle electronics. However, in the Lost Agent Arc, she is shown to not only possess a mobile, but to be experimenting with creating different ring tone designs as well.
- Shouko from Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts is stated to be this by Yuuji.
- Isumi from Hayate the Combat Butler is type 1. Coupled with her lack of direction, she's been referred to as hopeless on several occasions.
- Hajiotsu has Himari as a Type 2. She uses a basic phone because she already finds them complicated to understand. And while she can send text messages just fine, she's not very good at it, so her messages are always full of typos or need to be deciphered to what she actually means.
- Haruhi Suzumiya:
- Yuki Nagato starts out this way. She's a Reality Warper genius space alien interface device, but she's used to (or designed by/for) such a high level of technology that working at lower levels is initially very difficult to get accustomed to. Sort of like how most people who know how to use a cigarette lighter would be lost when given tinder, steel and flint.
- Mikuru Asahina as well. She's from the future, where technology has become non-physical, so modern technology is nigh-incomprehensible to her at times. She's generally fairly competent with tech from her own era, though we don't see her use it much (most of the time it isn't obvious that she is using it).
- Several Magic-side characters in A Certain Magical Index.
- Mihoko from Saki, which leaves her at a disadvantage in the prefectural tournament, since she's unable to print out records on her opponents so that she can research their play styles. In the anime, even attempting to print out records resulted in her being wrapped in wires while the computers on the network sparked electricity. It's unclear, however, how much this applies to Saki herself, who doesn't own a cell phone, in stark contrast to other characters.
- Shinobu of Kiniro Mosaic reportedly thinks a human can catch computer virus, and does not own a cell phone—highly unusual for Japanese high schoolers—because of this trope.
- Mocha of Is the Order a Rabbit? doesn't use a cellphone as a twenty-something because of this trope.
- Kaguya from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Chapter 42 shows that she has the very limited knowledge about technology, even thinking that she broke the internet while trying to make a Twitter account. She's also the only character that uses a flip phone instead of a smartphone.
- Echizen from Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge, trying to keep her "delinquent girl" image, doesn't use modern tech such as cellphones; an entire chapter is spent teaching her how to use one.
- Portugal of Axis Powers Hetalia struggles with building technology, due to the fact that he was very late to industrialize. Word of God mentions that his close friend England often lends him his technological skill.
- Usagi from Sailor Moon had trouble using a computer. This was somewhat justified back in the late 80's or early 90's, when the series takes place, because personal computers were new technology that Usagi and everyone else were still learning to use. But in the 2016 remake of the anime (set in The New '10s), it's absolutely comical, as Usagi (airheaded though she might be) is a teenage girl who (like her peers, and like much of the audience) has been around technology all her life.
- Mechanismo, Empowered's teammate, was transformed into a robot by alien nanoviruses. The upshot of this is that he can't actually understand what his cyberware is telling him; it's not easy to find the option for English when your computer's in Xplipadtic or whatever. Subverts this as most of the time it's "pretty intuitive".
- Black Canary is absolutely useless when it comes to computers. During preparations for her wedding to Green Arrow, it was mentioned that she'd actually thrown a laptop out of a window after being unable to work it properly.
- This probably does more to help their relationship than to hurt it. Green Arrow himself has been known to complain about having to use the Justice League's teleporters, and in Green Arrow: Quiver, he accused someone of being a supervillain simply for owning an up-to-date computer. Clearly the daughter of a World War II heroine and a man fighting crime with a bow and arrow were meant for each other.
- Roger Fox of FoxTrot, is a type 2. He can work the basics of most tech, but anything more complex than that, particularly with computers, results in crashes or worse. This is a result of Flanderization since the 1980s, when computers weren't as ubiquitous as they currently are.
- When Bloom County is Uncancelled in 2015, Opus quickly becomes a type 2, not adjusting to the modern world well at all. In his first attempt to use the net, Oliver tells him to put "words that make you smile" into a search engine; Opus inputs "suds" and "nuns", and suffice to say, it turns out bad. Later, he mistakes Twitter for a chat room for birds and accidentally posts a video of Steve having sex with his girlfriend (later ex-girlfriend) to the entire world. He hasn't caused any true disasters yet, but it's only been five months, give him time...
- In Flight: Shirou is incredibly inept with technology (he didn't even know what text messaging was). The sad part is that he is adept in comparison to most magi. Rin had no idea what a cellphone or computer was, making her worse than Shirou.
- The Setup Wizard has to deal with people like this on a regular basis.
- Justified in Angel's case in Influenced Out of Normality given that he's older than the discovery of electricity. When Xander asks his help with soldering some electronics, Angel admits that he's completely clueless as he was a vampire for over 40 years when the blow lamp was invented.
- Fate Revelation Online has two omakes where Rin accidentally kills Shirou due to not understanding the dangers of NervGear. She also gets Ilya the second time around.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe's Captain America can be seen like this to degree. When Iron Man needed him to describe an electronic service panel on the Helicarrier, Rogers is completely out of his depth. However, this is justified considering Rogers has just recently been defrosted out from 70 years of suspended animation and can't be expected to understand advanced technology, especially not in a way that an engineering genius like Stark would consider useful.
Iron Man: I need you to get to that engine control panel and tell me which relays are in overload position. What's it look like in there?
Captain America: (staring at the mass of circuits, wires, and blinking lights) It seems to run on some form of electricity.
Iron Man: ...Well, you're not wrong.
- Cars 3: Lightning McQueen is shown to be not quite accustomed to the Rust-eze Racing Center's simulator and starts going out of control the moment it starts up, to the point of destroying it.
- Polly MacKenzie in The Inbetweeners 2 has trouble working the computer during her Skype sessions with Will, at one point unintentionally showing Will and his friends her cleavage through her botching of the camera angle.
- In Penguins of Madagascar, Dave invokes this when he tries to video chat with the North Wind.
Eva: "Where's the sound?"
Kowalski: "Dave, your microphone, it's not on."
Classified: "Click on the button with the picture of the microphone."
Short Fuse: "Every time a villain calls in, this happens."
- In City Slickers, Mitch spends hours during the cattle drive trying to explain to Phil how to program his VCR.
Ed: Shut up! Just shut up! He doesn't get it! He'll never get it! It's been four hours! The cows can tape something by now! Forget about it, please!
- Nearly the entire wizarding world falls into this in Harry Potter. It's partly justified by the fact that even muggleborns only have an eleven-year-old's knowledge of muggle technology, but it still strains the suspension of disbelief at times.
- Shelby of the H.I.V.E. Series is actually very good with mechanical gadgets, as well as architecture and structural engineering. However, at one point she tries to hack into the school computer system. Professor Pike feels so sorry for her that he just gives her the files she's looking for on a flash drive and tells her not to bother trying to do that again.
- Giles De'Ath in Love and Death on Long Island is so reclusive that even though it's 1990, he's never heard of home video. When he does order a VCR, he doesn't realize that he also needs to order a television to plug it into. When he gets a television, he at first forgets to turn it on...
- Elijah Valentine from Last Mage has this as a Running Gag - technology so advanced it could just as well be magic? Easy-peasy. But give him a XXI century computer and Hilarity Ensues.
- Angel can use cell phones, but constantly struggles to understand their nuances, like voicemail. He also confuses computer terminology:
"They talk about me in the chatty rooms?"
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Giles admits that he's technophobic, and when he discovers that the library of Sunnydale High 2.0 consists of nothing but computers, he's absolutely horrified.
- Kakistos preferred lighting his lairs with candles rather than electric lights, and had little interest in modern comforts that would easily enable him to establish a power base. This is the main reason Mr. Trick pulled a Screw This, I'm Outta Here!! when Buffy and Faith attacked.
- New Tricks has a gag like this every other episode (e.g. Brian setting up a twitter and having trouble with the wordcount limit). On the whole, Brian tends to subvert this (seeing as he's an older gentleman), however, to the point where he pretty much becomes the unit's tech-guy.
- NCIS has Gibbs, who is poor with computers and sometimes insists on paper. Of course, when a blackout comes, he's the only person who can work an ancient copy machine...
- When it's revealed that in the 90s Gibbs once worked undercover as a computer technician, his current team finds this hilarious. Abby speculates that he might have been faking it all along, but the rest of the episode implies that no, he really is as bad with tech as he's always seemed. He'd studied really hard to become proficient with 90s-era computers (and still remembers some of that knowledge) but didn't keep up with the changes in tech because he doesn't care for it.
- Castiel from Supernatural has a bit of this early on, as he isn't quite used to all the nuances of Earth. A pay phone confuses him quite a bit.
Castiel: The voice says I'm almost out of minutes.
Recording: Hello, you've reached:
- And, when someone tries to call him and it goes to voicemail:
Castiel: I don't understand - why do you want me to say my name? Hello? Hello? (*sound of mashing buttons*)
Sam: You think Dad was texting us?
- Apparently John is one as well. Him sending the boys a text message in Season One - Asylum triggers this exchange:
Dean: He's given us coordinates before.
Sam: The man can barely work a toaster, Dean.
- Dowager Countess Violet of Downton Abbey. Understandable for such an old person, but thrown into sharp relief by the fact that it's the tech of a hundred years ago that flummoxes her.
- Sometimes it's the tech of TWO hundred years ago:
- Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden on JAG is clueless whenever computers are involved.
- In Haven, Dwight Hendrickson mentions he doesn't have a clue on anything computer or Internet related, which is why he gets others to handle it for him.
- In Once Upon a Time, Captain Hook/Killian Jones is shown to have issues with modern technology. He insists on calling phones "talking phones" as he thinks just "phones" sounds silly, and admits he doesn't know how they work beyond Emma answering when he hits the right button (if she doesn't answer, then he considers it useless).
- In Highlander, unlike most other immortals, Hugh Fitzcairn did not adjust well to modern technology. He needs the help of others like Duncan to forge him the documents he needs to maintain his identities. Later, he has no idea how to delete evidence framing him for murder.
- In Monk, Adrian Monk is a Type 1.
- In Shadowrun, the game's character creation allows for players to equip the 'Gremlins' quality, causing technology operating by them to inexplicably malfunction at varying degrees of severity. This can become problematic in a Cyberpunk world dominated by technology.
- Cyan from Final Fantasy VI is hopeless with machines. Sabin figures this out after Cyan tries to pilot a suit of Magitek armor without help, and Cyan freaks out when Sabin flips a random switch on the Doom Train without knowing what it does. In the World of Ruin, Cyan's hideout contains a book on machines, implying he's trying to get over this uselessness with technology. But, his Battle in the Center of the Mind features the party riding in Magitek armor as part of Cyan's nightmare, showing he hasn't made as much progress as he thinks he has.
- In The Walking Dead, Lee runs into Carley who is trying to get a radio to work. Lee quickly finds out that the radio needs batteries, but Carley has no idea what to look for, and asks him to find them. Upon being handed the batteries by Lee, she still can't get the radio to work. Lee then checks the radio again to find out that she has put the batteries in backward, completely missing the instructions painted on the tray. It's not let go of in subsequent episodes.
- Tales of Xillia 2 reveals that Gaius is a Type 1, with a very minor Type 2 sliced in. He owns a GHS phone and knows how it should work, but ultimately is clueless about it. One of his field lines involves wondering why it suddenly turned off, only to learn that it needs 'some power device attached to it' to charge it again. A post-battle dialogue with Rowen has him complain that it broke during the fight, only for Rowen to check it out and say he forgot to turn it back on.
- James Heller of [PROTOTYPE 2], a killing machine who can kill thousands, meets his mortal enemy: a computer.
Heller: I'm at the computer, what do I press?
Guerra: First you need to —
Heller: I'm pressing the red button. Shit. Now the screen's all fucked up.
Guerra: Okay, press the alternate key. "A.L.T." Alternate —
Heller: Alt? There's no fucking alt. I got a fucking squiggly line key, I got a fucking key with a triangle on it — what the fuck kind of keyboard is this anyway?
- Made even worse by the fact it is explicitly stated that when he absorbs someone he takes all of their memories, but for some reason, despite eating countless scientists he still can't work one.
- Tekken: Sergei Dragunov is a badass and quiet Russian soldier, quick and efficient in battle. He is also shockingly awful when it comes to assembling robots if his Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ending is anything to go by.
- James Vega in Mass Effect fits this quite well. His primary method of interacting with tech is kicking it until something happens.
James: [Upon being asked to disable an AA gun] Tech's not my specialty, but I'll pull a few wires and see what comes out.
- Zigzagged with Sora from Kingdom Hearts. As seen by Sora's room, basic technological amenities are present on Destiny Islands, but nothing as advanced as a computer, let alone as advanced as Ansem the Wise's. The entire TRON-based segments of the second game run with that fact. In fact, it's his constant smashing of the keys (and Donald's stepping on them) that get the trio dragged inside the computer (thus, our Tron-based world). He does learn the basics of typing quickly, though. He's a lot better with Magitek like the Gummi Ship. Riku at least is shown with some better understanding of tech, since he spent most of his time with Ansem the Wise between Chain of Memories and KHII. By contrast, the third off-worlder from Destiny Islands, Xehanort, and by proxy, his incarnations is far more adept at tech given his time as Ansem's apprentice as Terra-Xehanort.
- Fate/stay night
- According to supplementary materials, Rin Tohsaka is this. In fact, most oldblood mages are. Mages tend to look down on modern technology due to a combination of believing Older Is Better, arrogantly assuming that Magecraft can't be bested by mere Muggle creations, and generally have no clue how it works. This is ultimately taken Up to Eleven in one episode of Carnival Phantasm where Rin can't even figure out how to get a Blu-Ray Player to record a show. In Type-Moon's April Fool joke, in which some characters set up Twitter accounts, she has Archer set hers up... which she uses as her secret diary. Hilarity Ensues.
- Tokiomi Tohsaka, Rin's father, had what amounted to a magical fax machine, and his student Kirei Kotomine wondered if a normal fax wouldn't be more efficient. Irisviel von Einzbern is a little better, having been taught about modern tech by her husband Kiritsugu Emiya, in that she knows about it, but still fumbles with a cell phone and Drives Like Crazy. In contrast, Waver Velvet seems to at least have a clue about modern tech, as he knew how to work Iri's phone when she didn't, which is one reason that marks him as unconventional by the standards of mainstream magi. Later he comes to really love video games in memory of Iskander, so he probably is proficient.
- Weaponised by Kiritsugu Emiya. As most Magi are so completely ignorant about the capabilities of modern technology they don't know how to defend against them. So instead of confronting Kayneth's elaborate magical defenses, he drops the building down around his ears with some well placed high explosives as just one example.
- Kairi Sisigou of the Red Faction also weaponizes this, having become a successful Bounty Hunter of rogue mages after abandoning the studious path and combining his trademark Necromancy with modern weapons like shotguns and explosives. On the Black Faction, Caules Forvedge Yggdmillenia is the only member of Yggdmillenia (including his sister) who actively uses technology like laptops due to the fact he sucks at magecraft and originally abandoned the path before being pulled into the war, so he never bothered to conform to tradition.
- Ace Attorney:
- Maya Fey is an interesting variation. She isn't completely hopeless with technology, as she has a cell phone which she knows how to operate, but when it comes to computers, she can't even turn the darn things on. She even laments it when she finds a computer while trying to escape her kidnapper in the second game: she notes she could send an e-mail to the police, but realizes she doesn't even know how to turn the thing on.
- Phoenix Wright is a Type 2; he can work a computer and do the basic functions, and he knows what a computer virus is (as shown in Trials and Tribulations), but little beyond that. When he gets a computer to do what he wants, there's generally a lot of luck involved.
- Jake Marshall also states plainly that he's not much good with machines. He can run the basic security, watching over the video feeds for the evidence room, but he's not aware of the fingerprint readers on the lockers and he even claims he couldn't tell you how a bicycle works.note
- Iris is implied to be Type 2 but aside from her cell phone we never see her use anything technological. When she says that she spent most of her life in Hazakura temple she quickly adds that she does have contact with civilization and can use cell phones and computers as to not be mistaken for Type 1. Phoenix mentally notes that it's not something worth bragging about.
- Plays a surprisingly huge part of Doki Doki Literature Club!. Not Love Interest Monika gains Medium Awareness and the ability to edit and delete game data at some point, and a large part of the Surprise Creepy aspects of the game come from the fact that, while she can and does change things to try and make a route for the player to romance her and drive him away from the other girls, she's not very good at it and ends up causing things like various creepy bugs and glitches, and causing characters to go insane as their personalities are rewritten and even kill themselves.
- Sigrun from Stand Still, Stay Silent manages to be this, even with After the End Schizo Tech. She put that she knew how to drive on her resume despite not actually knowing to because she thought it couldn't be that hard (let's just say she's lucky one of her surbordinates actually knows how to drive) and manages to use binoculars the wrong way. In Chapter 6, she's seen talking into to the radio a couple of times, both times with someone else holding the microphone to her mouth because she doesn't realize that she's supposed to talk into a specific part of the radio (we're talking about the type of radio that can take up a whole wall in a small room here).
- Tulip Natchralli and her son Horizon from the roleplays of White Dark Life play this to extremes — as furry Magical Native Americans with distant elven ancestry, they literally get sick around modern technology, to the point where they can't enter cities without getting disoriented. (Tulip's daughter, Dandelion, is an aversion.)
- Evan of Everyman HYBRID is somewhere between Type 1 and Type 2. The only technology he seems to know how to use is anything involving Video Games. Anything else, forget it.
- The point of the Image Macro and/or Advice Dog spin-off "Technologically Impaired Duck."
- Occasionally appears on Not Always Right and its sister sites. It's even worse when the angry customer immediately assumes everyone in tech support must be a Walking Techfix and calls them "lazy/incompetent" when they can't fix their computers or cellphones (which often have completely unfixable problems, like the keyboard being covered in urine, or the inner circuits being smeared with butter).
- Jane Eyre of The Autobiography of Jane Eyre is an improbable vlogger. Not only is she camera-shy and has a hard time talking to her audience, she's not very tech-savvy either. She claims it takes her forever to set her camera up and start recording. Sometimes she messes up audio or editing. She even sometimes happens to turn on her camera accidentally. All this adds a nice layer of realism and vloggy feel to this web series. Episode 13 had amazing glitches because her camera is old and broken. It was very spooky and very Gothic-novel-like.
- r/talesfromtechsupport is naturally full of these.
- RinkWorks's Computer Stupidities is full of this. You'll find people who ask if you have to be online to backup online, people who believe the mouse is a foot pedal, people who tried to use the mouse as a TV remote, people who ask where the "any" key is on their keyboards when the "Press Any Key" message is displayed, and much more.
- Get two or more IT professionals in the same room together and you're guaranteed to hear a few stories about Type 1. Whether this counts as Truth in Television or not... Well, that kind of depends on the kind of IT professional you're talking to.
- Most of us have at least one (usually older) relative that's like this. With the of modern computers in the 21st century (particularly The New '10s), there are plenty of people who have been left behind in terms of technical knowledge.
- Type 2 is far more common than Type 1 and probably happens to everyone at some point, because it's both easier and far more commonly needed to know how to use a computer than how to assemble or repair one. Same for cars; even The Alleged Car is probably driven more often than it needs to be repaired.
- "I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone". Bjarne Stroustrup note
- VCRs included a digital clock, which in many people's homes simply blinked "12:00" because no one could be bothered to figure out (or wanted to figure out) how to program it after hooking it up or after a power failure, because the clock wasn't necessary to watch movies - only to program when to record things. This became a common Stock Shtick for someone who was Hopeless with Tech.
- Cracked's video piece "6 Shockingly Out-of-Touch Celebrities" showed quite a few celebrities are Type 1. For example, DMX apparently had no idea what a search engine was... in 2012.