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:
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
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, 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
Anime & Manga
- Orihime Inoue of Bleach falls under Type 1. This is stated to be the reason why she doesn't own a cell-phone.
- Shouko from Baka Test is stated to be this by Yuuji.
- Izumi from Hayate the Combat Butler is type 1. Coupled with her lack of direction, she's been referred to as hopeless on several occasions.
- Nagato Yuki starts out this way in Haruhi Suzumiya. Odd since she's a Reality Warper genius space alien interface device.
- This is arguably Fridge Brilliance: 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.
- Asahina Mikuru 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.
- Mechanismo, Empowered's team mate, 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".
- Angel can use cell phones, but constantly struggles to understand them. 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.
- New Tricks has a gag like this every other episode (e.g. Brian setting up a twitter and having trouble with the wordcount limit).
- 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...
- 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.
- And, when someone tries to call him and it goes to voicemail:
Recording: Hello, you've reached:
Castiel: I don't understand - why do you want me to say my name? Hello? Hello? (*sound of mashing buttons*)
- 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.
Violet: *after slipping* Heavens, what am I sitting on?
Violet: Oh, another modern brainwave?
Violet: Why does every day involve a fight with an American?
- Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden on JAG is clueless whenever computers are involved.
- 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 backwards, completely missing the instructions painted on the tray. It's not let go of in subsequent episodes.
- 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 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.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: Uncle doesn't understand devices such as faxes (he gets his facts from books), laptops (dismissing Jade's as a "magic waffle iron"), and the Internet. Ironically, however, he understands sending a spell through a phone, but not a piece of paper.
- 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.