The Computer Whiz

My high school offered one computer class: Computer Applications. As the name suggests, the class involved how to use Microsoft Office. I think it might also have taught touch typing. As my mom had taught me how to touch type over one summer in elementary school and I’d been using various computer programs for years, this was not very exciting for me.

Fortunately, though this class was a required class, it was possible to have the requirement waived by taking a test. The test involved creating a document in each of the four (at the time) main components in Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.

(If you don’t remember Microsoft Access, it’s because it was very different from the other Office applications and has now largely faded into obscurity. It was an attempt to make databases — the realm of bespectacled neckbeards and things which needed their own expensive dedicated hardware — available to normal business users. It was very cool in its own way but also never really caught on because it turns out most normal business users didn’t really want to make their own databases. ANYway…)

I was able to breeze through the Word, Excel, and Powerpoint sections and muddle my way through the Access section, so I passed the test and did not have to take the class.

My classmates, who knew I exempted myself from the class, would occasionally ask me questions about how to do something in Microsoft Office. But the thing is, I often wouldn’t know. Because I wasn’t an expert in Office, I just knew how to figure things out for myself.

The thing is, you don’t become a computer whiz by memorizing how to use a specific program any more than you become a skilled driver by memorizing where each button and dial is on your car’s console. I was never able to put this concept into words until much later in life, but ultimately, I learned to be a proficient computer user by immersion.

(At least back then, being a computer gamer was a great way to gain said immersion, as the jiggery-pokery required to get a computer game working on such limited hardware served to familiarize me with both hardware and software concepts which still serve me well today.)

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