Living Out Loud

The Phones of Normal People


Now, I realize that there are some folks in the geek space who still make use of default apps. Robb Knight's project from the winter of 2023 taught us that. By and large though, the things that people in tech related fields do with our phones, laptops and tablets fall far, far outside of what normies do with theirs. Even further from the norm are what the professional nerds do. Those folks who make their living from monetized blogs, podcast ads, subscriptions and other forms of content are so far removed from what your Mom does with her phone that they could be living on another planet. I saw lots of bloggers today venting a little bit over the vapors the content production machine types are having about the new iPads and the fact that those darn folks at Apple just won't listen to them.

I live at the intersection of normies and tech because I do IT support for a living. I have to talk to your Mom at work in the language she speaks about her computer and her phone. I know, trust me, I really know how much she hates changing her password and how much she really doesn't want to have to download and configure a two-factor authentication app. I know how frustrating it is to search for Microsoft Authenticator in Apple's App Store only to have the number one hit to be a $40 paid app and not the free product from the folks in Redmond. You know what's important to your Mom? That her icons don't move, that's what. Last year Microsoft had an errant patch Tuesday that ended up removing the Office icons off the desktop of corporate computers and I spent a couple of days explaining to people that, no, we didn't "delete Word off your computer," and talking them through recreating the shortcut. That's a crisis. Not being able to use the Finder on an iPad is not a crisis.

Pete Brown said it well, "the vast majority of iPad owners are using the device to read Kindle books, play Candy Crush, and take bad photos.". There are millions of us nerds out there using the best calendar and note taking apps but there are tens of millions of people perfectly happy with what Apple or Google gave them. Maybe they have downloaded a few apps (and probably never deleted them) to try out. They might even be pretty good at Instagram, but they are not us. They do not know what version of the operating system they are running on anything. They do not care. They hate updates because they interrupt stuff they'd rather be doing. They don't care about the new features being announced at WWDC because they do not want to learn how to do new things with their already too complicated tech. They are the baseline. We are the outliers.