Different, not stupid

differentThe world wide web is a fantastic invention. One of the things it enables people to do is to ask the world any kind of question. Now if I could ask the world any question and have it answered, I would choose something profound and important.

Instead I have just stumbled upon this.

My Nokia phone stop working. Please give solution.

Obviously nobody can solve this problem, because there are hundreds of possible solutions and no information to help us decide which one is right. What was the guy who asked the question thinking? Is he simply stupid?

I believe strongly that people are generally not stupid, even if they do or say stupid things. I believe this because I have done and said many stupid things myself. So let’s empathise and try to get inside the mind of the questioner.

His phone has stopped working. He has no idea how to fix it. He has gone to an appropriate place on the web (a phone forum), stated his problem (phone has stopped working) and specified some detail (it’s a Nokia phone). He has asked politely for help (please) and clearly stated his need (the solution). It’s quite possible that English isn’t his first language, and yet he has written in English in order to better communicate his request.

So in fact, this is an entirely appropriate and intelligent question, framed politely and helpfully and with supporting information. It’s only because we know more than him that we realise that the information isn’t sufficient.

We can deduce that this is a person who has little experience of repairing electronic devices. This Nokia phone may be the only advanced technology he has ever encountered. There may be nobody in his home town or village who knows more than he does. And yet he has the initiative to seek help online from the global community. He has indeed asked the world a profound and important question.

So what is the appropriate response to this question? It’s to ask for more details about what’s not working. Yet the response on the forum is, “You stupid ****, go **** yourself.”

So I wonder. Who is the stupid one here, really?

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