If You Give a Man Tech Support · 5 September 2020

Beware if you give a man tech support.

Some of us are our own tech support. That just means that we can fix our own computer problems when they arise. Whether those problems are the computers themselves, the network they communicate on, or even peripherals that they use. We can and do fix most of those problems on our own. Mostly. But there are those who need tech support from others. If you are one of those who offer tech support in your family, beware. Especially, if you are just starting to do so.

Now, I say this a bit tongue in cheek. After all, I do not mind giving tech support to those in need. Family, friends, strangers on the street. Well, maybe not the strangers on the street. But I have given tech support to others. And I have gotten a fair amount myself. Which is why it is nice to have an Information Technology (IT) specialist on speed dial. One who even gives a family discount when I cannot do things myself or when I need a quick consultation. But sometimes, those who are technology savvy end up giving way more tech support than they bargained for.

A case in point. And a little adage (or two or three) as a warning.

A friend of mine was being thankful that his wife gave him such great tech support when he was working on a project way above his technical expertise. In the end, she lamented about it and wondered if it had all been worth it. When he told me this, I came up with an adage similar to the one about giving a person a fish. (If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.) If you are the one in your circle of family and friends who gives tech support, see if this little adage is true. (Especially, if you are a woman giving a man tech support. Better yet, a wife giving her husband tech support.)

If you give a man tech support for a day, you fix his immediate problem. If you teach a man how to do his own tech support, you are in for a lifetime of futility. You may as well just help him with his tech problems whenever they arise. For when you fix his simple tech problem, he sees that you are tech savvy and will continue to rely on your expertise. Much more so if he already knew that you know more than he does in that area. After all, even though men like to say they know it all, they like it even better when somebody else knows more, especially if said somebody will do something that they never wanted to do in the first place. You might call it the incompetency ploy. Why do it at all, if somebody else is willing to do it for you in the first place? But tech support is oh so much more. For when you try to teach a man tech support, his eyes glaze over and he asks you to use simple instead of technical terms. And he watches slack-jawed as you install software or connect cables. And when you try to teach him technical terms or say that the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, he laughs and says he can never learn as much as you already know. He even laughs when you roll your eyes at his incompetence. Then you realize. When you try to teach a man to be his own tech support, you are trying to do something impossible. For if he wanted to learn how to be his own tech support, he would not have asked for your help in the first place. So when you give a man tech support for a day, just do what needs to be done and forget teaching him. He does not want to learn. He just wants you for your technical expertise.

My friend’s wife ended up walking away instead of teaching or helping him. (She has usually helped him in the past, so I kinda mixed the stories together.) So he went to another friend. After all, he was in way over his head. And when he related the story to me, my reply to his situation was much shorter. In fact, he was the one to suggest the thought of teaching a man to fish. I just thought I might embellish a bit more. And did so even more here.

After thinking beyond my friend’s situation, I thought a better comparison of teaching a man tech support might be teaching a man to swim.

If you teach a man to swim, you will probably save his life. For swimming is one of those recreational activities that has practical value. But if you want to teach a man tech support, do not just throw him in the deep end, for he may get eaten by piranhas. Or he may end up wrecking your computer. Very seldom will he learn how to swim or even float.

Then again, I think giving a man tech support can also be like giving a mouse a cookie.

When you give a man tech support, he will want you to fix more than the original problem. He will want you to clean out his inbox. And then, he will want more software installed. And a new peripheral attached. And after you clean out his inbox and get the software installed and the peripheral attached, he will want you to do his project for him. So when you give a man a cookie, just remember that he will want all the cookies in the cookie jar. And a beverage to help wash it all down.

I know it is all sounds so silly. After all, these analogies sound so cruel and wrong. Still, forewarned is forearmed. So beware when you give a man tech support. And forget teaching it (or IT) to him.

© 2020 Michael T. Miyoshi

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