Sometimes You Might Have to Read the ****ing Manual

El Brown
2 min readJan 8, 2020

One of my favorite writers, David Pogue of the New York Times*, put out a column today instructing gadget nerds on which “tech terms to avoid.” It’s in response to complaints he gets from so-called newbies who feel bewildered by tech terms they don’t understand.

Among the words he’d like the digerati to eschew are device, display and wi-fi, along with the alphabet soup of acronyms, including DRM, LCD, PDA, RAM and URL.

I couldn’t disagree more with Mr. Pogue about forgoing use of these terms. They’re all valid tech terms which anyone purporting to live in the real world should be familiar with. Dumbing everything down for luddites serves no-one.

I’m not so insensitive that I feel nothing for (perhaps older) folks who feel left behind now that even the refrigerator features a touch-screen and the TV requires an Internet connection. At the same time, should we all be forced to use the ice box and get daily deliveries from a milkman because some are uncomfortable with change? I think not.

Time marches on. Change is a constant. I’m sure there will come a time when I’ll need my son to help me figure out how to swap out the self-sealing stem bolts on my hovercraft’s inertial dampers. However I can’t imagine ever being the kind of person who buys an expensive widget, then stubbornly refuses to learn how to take full advantage of all its features.

As life gets more complicated, simple joys mean more. Being unplugged and taking a walk with a loved one will always be a sweet way to kill an hour. For everything else though, you might have to RTFM.


* I found this short piece, written in October 2009, when going through a folder full of stuff from a personal blog I used to maintain. I republished it here because it was about the only thing still relevant from my old Blogger.com site.