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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, and Evil Luddite, who refuses to accept technology because of its perceived evil. Contrast Technopath and Gadgeteer Genius.
- 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.
- Angel never could get a handle on using cell phones.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Incompetent Duck."