10 Common Misconceptions about Tech (and what you should know instead)
The best thing about technology is what you make of it.
There’s a whole, long, beautiful history of people learning to coexist and interact with technology that even sci-fi movies didn’t dream of. From calling the people you love and watching them appear on a screen to linking up your house to turn the heat on before the cold drive home, the tech that works in our world has grown up the same way we have: with space made for where it would go and an understanding that people will go wherever the silicon does.
And in that long, beautiful history, there have been a few misunderstandings – we’ve all got one of those stories. Remember your dad telling you not to download a game because it would infect the computer with a virus — after you bought it from Gamestop or Steam?
Or how about the old ‘unplug the router at night so you don’t run out of Wi-fi’. That’s always a great one to encounter in the wild, like running into Sasquatch at Taco Mesa chowing down on a plate of corn taquitos.
Most of those stories have gone the way of the dodo now. The internet’s just too vast, and you can find the answer to anything if you look hard enough.
But there are a few tech misconceptions still kicking around which seem to crop up a lot.
Here are a few of the ones we hear, and why you shouldn’t worry about them.
1. Tech-enabled products are automatically better.
Well – for some people, maybe. The general rule is that if it makes your life better, that product is better than the standard too.
But for the majority of people, having a tech-enabled product doesn’t make their life better. It just gives them more problems to deal with when there’s a power-cut and your entire connection goes offline.
2. Facebook uses your microphone to listen in on you.
Facebook has a lot of privacy issues going, so this is one that’s actually grounded in reality – but it still doesn’t make it true.
The general idea of this one is that Facebook eavesdrops on your conversation just to show you tailored ads about whatever you were talking about. The thing is, Facebook uses the information that’s already available on your profile: your interests, what you’re commenting on, how you work.
It doesn’t need to go digging for new information when there’s everything it needs right there.
3. Antiviruses will protect you from everything.
This one might be one of the more harmful myths we’ve had to talk about, and here’s why: an anti-virus is critical to have today. Is it the end of protecting yourself online?
An anti-virus is just a database of the current software-based threats around. It needs to be maintained and updated. Those pop-ups in the corner you always click ‘remind me later’ on? Make those a priority.
It still doesn’t mean you’re protected. Antivirus measures only deal with computer viruses. Cyber threats today mean so much more than that: hackers, human error, and software vulnerabilities will always be a threat, whether you have the latest antivirus or not.
4. You have to be in Silicon Valley to get a job in tech.
Silicon Valley is great for connecting with other people involved in tech. It’s not the only place you can do that. Countries like the United Kingdom, Amsterdam, Canada: they’re all up-and-coming tech havens where you can do something different. With the pandemic, picking up and moving there has become a lot easier, too.
After all, you don’t really need to be in an office to work in tech.
5. Old technology or technological practices are irrelevant.
Old technology and technological practices will never be irrelevant. Everything in tech is interconnected: you learn through doing, experimenting, and redoing.
When all those new methods fail, you go back to the drawing board. That usually means paring things back to the basics, when we didn’t have the possibilities we have now. Being able to go back a version or two makes it easier to pinpoint what isn’t working – and to figure out how to fix it.
6. You have to put tech in everything because you can.
Some things are better old-school.
Fridges, ovens, microwaves: big budget white goods are all smart-enabled today, and while there is a time and place for them, that time and place is probably not now. The technology is still too new, the price tag too high, and the life-span too short to make them a must-have purchase.
The possibility of being able to put tech into things that aren’t tech by nature is great. But like the great Dr. Malcolm said, being preoccupied with whether you can makes it easy to forget whether you should.
7. You can’t customise technology or software to do exactly what you want.
Technology is malleable, like clay. While the core components of what makes it up might be difficult to change the way you want it to, what you can make with them offers infinite possibilities.
8. Everything you do on the internet is anonymous.
If only. Even using incognito, there’s no way to hide what you’ve been doing on the internet: your internet service provider will always be able to tell.
Well – unless you use a Tor browser and a good VPN. The right technology can solve a lot of problems.
9. You have to wait until your device hits 0% before you charge it.
This is a holdover from when most tech had nickel-cadmium batteries, when you needed the battery to be empty before you could recharge it so that it would last longer. Today, most devices carry modern lithium-ion batteries, and letting them drop below 10% might actually harm them over time.
10. Something deleted is gone forever.
There are always going to be traces of what you deleted left in your system. A good tech company can help you recover it in most cases, unless you take one of those military-grade deletion programmes and run it frequently.
Old tech misconceptions are fascinating. They show you how much the industry has adapted, so subtly and so fast that even within it, it’s hard to notice until something comes along to really make you think: ah, I remember we used to do it completely differently. The knowledge we have now is going to last us only until the next big disruption comes along. After that, you’re going to need a good tech company to help you understand where to go from here.
And we’re always happy to help.