May 31

Frustration and Ignorance

In Brief—Bay’s compulsiveness leads him to address information that’s probably superfluous. Maybe it even qualifies as insecurity, but it gives him the opportunity to promote next week’s piece.


Ignorance is Not Stupidity—

Before I launch into what to most of you already know, it’s important—nay, CRITICAL— to understand that “ignorance” means lack of knowledge, not stupidity. This piece deals with the same bugaboo that afflicted me before my daughter showed me how little I knew regarding even the simplest things about how the computer works. I was ignorant. Now at least I have cleared that hurdle. Still, I have to admit that numerous hurdles have yet to be cleared.

Lesson #1 is that I have learned that the computer will not explode if I press the wrong button. A corollary is that the computer will not blow up if I click on a highlighted area in the piece.


As for frustration, I have been cranking out new blog pieces every week since 2013, yet the blog resists expansion despite the fact that I am at least a marginally better writer. In my insecurity, I have failed to attract more readers, and just a few readers are bold enough to submit a comment. Maybe my daughter is right that the blog’s subtitle implies that only my view is valid. It’s not, but readers who disagree refuse to challenge the views I express. They quietly let me do my dance. By the way, I’m always open to suggestions,

Other possibilities are that my pieces are so long and boring that readers are falling asleep. OR readers simply aren’t interested for perfectly valid reasons. I’ve been told by experts that a piece needs to be short because people these days are too busy to read something longer…like mine. To me, Twitter stuff is too short to include the nuance I believe is necessary. Old guys cling to their accustomed ways, you know…or it’s just plain stubbornness.

Anyhow, here are some things that might help us all.

If something is unfamiliar to you and think you have screwed up, stop and back out. The computer does only what you tell it to. If in doubt, get someone who knows computers to show the right way to do it. Periodically, I scream for the local guru to bail me out of something that is Greek to me but simple for him. Since gurus can be expensive, chances are that there’s a grandchild or some other knowledgeable young person who can solve the problem. New technology is here to stay, so we might as well learn more than we know now. I’ve read that old brains need stimulation.

Regarding that highlighted word or phrase, it’s telling us that this is a link to something that relates to what is being said. It may also lead us to something new and exciting. For example (gird yourself…here comes the promotion), I am in the process of learning about how Pinterest can show readers pictures that relate to the subject of the piece. To alert readers to the pictures that are hidden there, I will highlight the word “here” or some other word to lead a reader to pictures that illustrate what I am writing about. As you know, put the cursor on the highlighted area and Click. You will be transported in a flash to that material.

The audible click opens a path to somewhere else the sender wants to send you. It may be an article that bears on the issue of the piece or it may be pictures that illustrate something the author has seen…as in Pinterest. You can always return to your point of departure.

My daughter tells me that most people never bother to click on a link even though they know it will connect them with a related item. That’s okay if readers choose to do that, but my compulsive philosophy is that they’ll never know what they’re missing. It’s a “curiosity killed the cat” sort of thing.

Wow! I feel better already. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to bloviate as well as to tell you about next week’s big adventure. Check out the coming two-part “Reminiscences and Lessons of Japan.” There are lots of neat photos of places I visited and stuff I experienced. A blog piece on my pottery waits in the wings.


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    • Susan on June 1, 2015 at 06:24

    Sounds like you have a very kind and smart daughter. Would love to see a photo of her!
    I’ll be sure to tune in for those memories and photos of Japan.

      • Don Bay on June 1, 2015 at 17:07

      You’re right, Susan. She not only taught me about the computer, she encouraged me to write this blog and carried the load in setting it up. Further, she recently introduced me to Pinterest that will (I hope) show readers a bit of what I saw in Japan. My blog piece about Japan will start with Part 1 next Sunday, June 7, and will be followed on June 14 by Part 2. The learning never seems to stop…it says some place.

      To see her photo and learn about her books, I encourage you to go to her web site, Flying Tiger Press. You will be even more impressed.

  1. Okay, I saw the lead-in and immediately formulated my response, then you changed focus. But I’ll give my response anyway, just because I can. Scott Peck says evil is the refusal to become aware. So my response to “ignorance is not stupidity” is that if you are pretending ignorance, or refusing to learn or become aware, then ignorance may indeed be stupidity or evil. Being ignorant of poverty or child mortality may be because you live on a remote island, but it may also be because you refuse to inform yourself. So now back to your real topic. There is such a thing as learned helplessness. If I can’t use a computer because I really don’t know how, that’s ignorance. If I can’t use a computer because I want to put all the computer stuff on my wife, that’s not ignorance, that’s something else, and it may run the gamut from learned helplessness to a watered down sort of evil. I don’t know how to wash the dishes? That’s not ignorance, that’s putting all the household chores on the little woman.

      • Don Bay on June 6, 2015 at 09:54

      This blog piece is part information, part complaint and part promotion, BUT let’s focus on Ignorance. Ignorance is defined as lack of information. An old aphorism might do here: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” The water is knowledge. The horse may be willful, sense-impaired or lazy, but the water remains the water regardless of the horse’s motivation.

      A person may be fearful or lazy, but that doesn’t change the fact that knowledge of the computer remains unrealized. A person’s motivation may vary, but lack of knowledge of the computer stays the same. Ignorance of a subject does not change simply because the potential learner’s motivation varies. Put more clearly, ignorance does not magically become stupidity because the human’s motivation is different.

    • Donna Boe on June 6, 2015 at 05:08

    I think it’s possible to be both ignorant and stupid, or maybe just so frustrated that you achieve a learned helplessness. At least, that is the stage I’m in presently. So, I’m very limited in my use of a computer but I have a good excuse – no grandchild near to come to my rescue. (see, there’s that helplessness again)

      • Don Bay on June 6, 2015 at 10:25

      I suggest you read my reply to Jim regarding ignorance, but let’s deal with helplessness here. Before moving on, it’s necessary to understand that ignorance is lack of knowledge while stupidity is something completely different.

      Helplessness is occasionally pathological but, more commonly, it is a conscious or subconscious refusal to deal with a subject. A person often claims to feel helpless in the face of learning something new. It may arise from feeling too old to learn something new, fatigue or some other excuse that absolves the person from taking on something unfamiliar. Children rarely feel that walking or learning the multiplication tables is too much to learn. They just do it. Sure, it may not come easily, but they approach this as a new challenge.

      So it is with all humans. We are not normally “helpless.” We too often subscribe to something that is “common knowledge” when it’s usually nothing more than a desire to avoid the unfamiliar or the unpleasant. It’s too easy to fall into that trap, so let’s work at avoiding that trap and instead accept new challenges. Eat that elephant one bite at a time.

  2. But my point is that people sometimes say “I’m ignorant” because they want to gain some advantage. The problem is that the other person doesn’t know which it is, and so they may choose to be kind, assuming real ignorance, when they are being duped. We sometimes can’t separate real ignorance from manipulation. Which means only the person knows the difference. Should I assume real ignorance? Depends on the person I’m dealing with.

      • Don Bay on June 8, 2015 at 10:44

      Interestingly, you have introduced a duplicitous third party. While I recognize that the claim of ignorance can be used to manipulate another, the motive is irrelevant. Whether it’s one or a hundred individuals and the motives may be deceit or manipulation, ignorance of the facts is not changed by whatever motive is present. Motives and facts are separate and inviolable.

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