Is it Hopeless?

Are PEBKACs the New Zombies?

This is the question that came to mind for me earlier today, after some recent experiences.  Understand, before sharing with any and all readers, two things:

  • PEBKAC = Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair.
  • Lord knows I’ve been a PEBKAC more times than I care to count.

Much of what I do for my “day job” (for lack of a better term) involves support of users.  I’ve been doing so long enough, I tend to think I’ve seen it all.  Nothing can surprise me.

But these recent experiences have reminded me how Life can always do Something New.  One involved watching someone use, the most difficult way to do anything with a computer (or  seems so from my perspective, at least).  Initially disturbing, but I did attempt to make sure to do a fair amount of letting the user fish, after showing them how to, or having to do the fishing myself.  And I did appreciate the user’s determination to learn how.

Then today.  Wow.  After hearing a snide comment about how instructions we (Instructional Technology) had sent out were wrong, I had to start asking questions to figure out where the problem was.  My reward for the effort? I had to explain how to access the Help for an application.  Not, not the Help for the web browser, you want the Help for the service you are using via the web browser.  I had to Help someone recognize the right Help.

Providing support requires being able to seek and find the source(s) of problems.  Where does the problem exist?  Pushing past the symptoms to the cause is what allows for a cure to applied.  The problem can be the keyboard, or anything it connects to.  It can even be the chair.

So why (again from my perspective) are so many users not willing to investigate or admit the problem is them?  They know something is not working, but seemingly choose to point to anything and everything but themselves.

I made the Zombie connection, because of a growing sense of doom; no signs of improvement.  If anything, getting worse.  Not just at work, PEBKACing and being unwilling/able to self-recognize seems to be winning.  This, and watching the movie Pandorum this weekend, which was basically Zombies in Space.  🙂

For the sake of hope, I know I’m really, honestly, not any better than anyone else at this.  I’ve got just as many PEBKAC tendencies as the next person.  And many of my problems involve other areas beyond that small space between the keyboard and chair.  I might even use this small space as a hideout from those other areas.

All I can do is try to be better, no different from anyone.  I can also do better at understanding and sympathizing for others doing the same.  Unlike the Zombies, we can all help each other to be better, less problematic to each other.

Here’s to hoping that next week, I can just techno-geek about something cool and awesome.

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~ by Neal Cross on May 25, 2010.

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