I recently took a masters course on using video games and virtual worlds for educational purpose. The course is still concluding, as we are working to complete our final papers and projects. The course included a week-long seated session where we explored technology that was new and completely unfamiliar to me. Having grown up with technology, I am accustomed to understanding it fairly well and being able to navigate my way through programs. This week proved otherwise.
On her comedy show, Amy Schumer performed a skit where she had to teach her mother how to send a photo on her laptop. In her typical exaggerated fashion, the scene took place in front of a therapist, as if the task was extremely challenging and required third-party support. In the skit, the therapist gently guides Amy through the process as she experiences the impatience, frustration, and exhaustion of walking her mom through what she deems to be simple steps of using technology (Amy: Drag it anywhere on the desktop, Mom: The desktop meaning the whole screen?). The therapist chimes in from time to time, encouraging Amy to be patient and ‘not allow herself to be triggered’. Hilariousness ensues as Amy’s mom struggles with the task of dragging a photo into a folder and Amy unable to explain it in words. Thinking of the scene in Zoolander, I can imagine her mom saying, ‘The files are inside the computer?!’ as she considers physically taking it apart.
My experience in this course has pulled me to the other side of these jokes. I was not the one laughing. Instead, I felt the real frustration, confusion, and complete disorientation of being asked to maneuver a new body and even speak a different language. The cultural shock of virtual worlds was palpable. Every time I had to reopen Roblox or Minecraft, I felt lost again and couldn’t remember how we did the thing we did yesterday. I only wish I had a therapist and a daughter to sit with me through the process each day of class, reminding me of the simple steps. As Amy’s mom says, ‘You forget!’.
To watch Amy’s skit: Computer Therapy