Difficulty with technical problem-solving – a social barrier

By Jay

Technology such as phones and computers are more-or-less vital to functioning comfortably for most of us and the complexity and multitude of options and updates are difficult to keep up with, especially, for some who have mental health or emotional difficulties.

My laptop has slowed down through the memory being filled up and I have also damaged it a few times, dropping it and spilling tea. In the past year, there have been issues with video calls and the screen freezing or crashing. Over the summer, I had a number of job interviews, some via video call, and despite this, I didn’t invest in a new computer or try to fix my existing one. At least a couple of times, my interviews were disrupted in some way, such as me not being able to see the interviewers or the video call or a file not opening on time. Also the laptop overheats and the fan is always whirring loudly. Unsurprisingly, I was unsuccessful in all these interviews, though, the laptop was not the only reason, because I was also unsuccessful in face-to-face interviews over this period.

Lack of hope for the future and constant worrying have been the causes of me not resolving my laptop issues – and, not addressing most things generally, including health issues and preparing for interviews properly. I also have difficulties with my phone memory being full up and not being able to transfer files elsewhere.

I increasingly feel relatively illiterate digitally, though I spend most of my days online and using a laptop and have worked in temporary roles remotely. I have a fear of searching the market for a new laptop and being confronted by the choice and unfamiliar terms. It is the same when it comes to changing my phone. Financial insecurity also makes this hard. I have often relied on family members to do the thinking and decision-making for me.

I now have a Google Chromebook that a family member gave me. I have used it for video call interviews and it has worked fine. However, it is somehow always logged into their personal Google account and I don’t know how private my use and their’s is. I don’t like this computer – everything seems to be geared towards entrapping the owner into Google, such as the, apparently, permanent signed-in state, and some things I normally use aren’t, seemingly, compatible.

I can’t seem to install Adobe or LibreOffice – which are free software useful for reading and editing text. I have searched Google for ways around this but have quickly given up. I don’t know which search result to trust or try. When I open a site and try to follow their instructions, I quickly get lost. Where is the left side of the File App? Which settings are they talking about? What version of Chrome OS am I using?

At the first few hurdles, I feel panic, despair and anger. I close the site and try to follow other instructions but hit similar problems. Finally, I try a Youtube instruction video, but the despair makes it difficult to pay attention and try the instructions.

A Google search says that I might be able to download a free version of the word processor I normally use, LibreOffice, specifically for Google Chromebooks called Collabora. I try to download it but an error says that the device is not matched with a Google account, or something. Another suggestion I found was to open files in Google Docs, an online word processor saved to a cloud but I give up quickly in trying to follow the instructions. With so many variables, I feel hopeless that I’m reading the right set of instructions. It’s hard to judge the reputability of sites, for me. They all seem dubious. I know that I should focus on one set of instructions and exhaust it first before jumping to trying another.

I currently log into the Chromebook as a ‘Guest’ and hope that my use has some privacy. However, I haven’t found a word processor programme for it. When I first used it, I could open text files in a mysterious browser that opened automatically. However, that no longer works.

For typing, I use my old laptop, which is still going, though some USB ports are not working and if I save more files, I’m sure it will fail completely soon. I need to think about transitioning everything, so nothing important is lot. However, it seems a mountainous and laborious task, especially, on a slow computer and without, yet a reliable replacement. I also need to think about buying a new one but am putting it off.

It does feel as if rather than me operating technology, it is operating me, dependent on it to escape my reality of unemployment, financial insecurity and mental and emotional health and other health issues. I am not gaining understanding of the technology world, much, it feels, but lost within it. It is also alluring in its captivating promise of money and autonomy in digital self-employment, which also draws me.

This fall,
clinging to earphones
to not hear the screams.

Pull off the cords
and sing into the abyss.


Author: Workers' Archive

Covering sensitivity at work and beyond on my website: https://samuelaliblog.wordpress.com/

One thought on “Difficulty with technical problem-solving – a social barrier”

  1. Hi Jay,

    your post really did make me think about the complex relationships between the technical and the social with which we grapple every day.

    We are technical beings and we are social beings.

    Some of us are technical beings in a social world.

    And some of us are social beings in the tech world – thus our horror and outrage at Silicon Valley bros and sisters.

    A lot of Google Docs are hard – I tried to explain it to a septugeneranian of my acquaintance. [that she could share the documents from her studies].

    Glad you kept your laptop in relatively good shape/nick…

    Yours truly had to update and de-corrupt the iPad so that I could install photos to the Mac.

    best wishes with your new laptop/notebook solution.

    “Lack of hope for the future and constant worrying have been the causes of me not resolving my laptop issues – and, not addressing most things generally, including health issues and preparing for interviews properly. I also have difficulties with my phone memory being full up and not being able to transfer files elsewhere.”

    This is big!

    Yes – people have difficulty with full memories and being unable to transfer their “files” too.


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