I was working as a secretary at BYU when the personal computer became available to the public.  One semester we had to walk downstairs to use a computer that filled an entire room and the next semester a computer appeared in our office that fit on one of the desks.  Six secretaries shared this computer, and I admit, I dominated the computer time.  I was so excited about this machine that could correct my word processing mistakes without having to use white-out.  On my IBM Selectric II typewriter I had made so many mistakes that I learned to type 85 words a minute, even while using the back-space & correct key.  But my typewriter couldn’t rearrange entire paragraphs like the Apple IIe could.  This machine would make my job a breeze.

Unfortunately, the Apple IIe was always “down.”  I came to despise the computer for getting my hopes up, for working so well one minute, and then refusing to perform the next.  Tech support was so busy it would often take them days to respond to my pleas for help, and eventually I started dreaming about smashing the spurious machine with a sledge hammer.  The rapid changes in word-processing programs discouraged me too.  As soon as I learned one program, it was obsolete, and I had to learn another one.  Eventually, I refused to learn a new program, and spent lots of years stuck in Word Perfect.

The Facebook craze attacked me the same way as the advent of computers themselves.  I signed up the second I heard about Facebook, when one of my sons in college sent me photos.  Within a short time I was discouraged.  It was cumbersome to use.  When it became “un”cumbersome, I didn’t like some of the ways people were using it and I didn’t like some of the tactics Facebook itself used.  For years I shied away.

Those of you who read the article I wrote for Meridian last year, “Why I am Wary of Facebook,” will recall some of my concerns.  Hundreds of people responded to that article with passion–just as many defending Facebook as those disgusted by Facebook.  Since then most of the concerns I voiced have become widely acknowledged and many have been resolved.

My experience with computers in general and Facebook in specific provided a vivid example of something I have seen in life:  things change.  People change.  People learn, people grow up.  People correct their errors.  People become more serviceable as they work out their kinks and smooth out their wrinkles.

We are all in an inchoate state.  We aren’t done growing.  We are pretty rough around the edges in many areas.  Eventually we will learn from our mistakes, hopefully, not make them again, and we will more serviceable to mankind.  My billing manager used to be so far behind filing claims that the insurance companies wouldn’t accept them.  Now she’s as prompt as my morning newspaper.  My yard man was a flake when I first hired him.  Now I have not a single complaint.  I’m kind of glad I didn’t fire him because now he is such a great employee.

I don’t always have the patience to work with someone who is floundering, forcing me to endure the inconveniences of a learning curve.  Sometimes I walk away, and let someone else put up with them while they are in this annoying, inconvenient, frustrating stage of development.  But eventually I run out of yard men.  There just aren’t enough perfect employees to go around.  So I’m trying to be more patient with imperfection because we’re all learning.  We don’t have the luxury of always hiring someone who is at the top of their game, (or making friends with, or marrying) because achieving such a level of excellence takes a lifetime–sometimes more than a lifetime.  Sometimes we need to allow the undeveloped, determined-to-improve person to be good enough.  I certainly appreciate those who have patience with my bumbling, those who give me a chance to overcome my faults, and have faith that with time I will become more and more serviceable to them.

This doesn’t mean my computer never crashes, or Facebook is always honest, but it means I am learning to put up with their imperfections and they can still be serviceable to me while they continue to develop.  In the end, we save ourselves frustration if we accept the faults of computers and computer programs, of appliances and automobiles, of children and bosses, of spouses, and of ourselves.