In my choice of a title, I am not referring to the proverbial "brick wall" I am referring to the attitude of some of the people I talk to each day. I happened to be teaching a "basic" research class. The sole participant in the class began talking about her family and how she was trying to find the origin of a mid-19th Century immigrant from Ireland. Hmmm. Why was she in a basic class? So I decided she likely needed a little more advanced help and thought I could lay some ground work by asking which genealogy program she was using. I got a blank stare. "Oh," she said, "I don't want to use a computer program, I am perfectly happy with my paper forms thank you."
I suppose the class could have ended right there, but I said, "Perhaps you would like to have your genealogy in a program so you can share it with others?"
"Not really," was the reply. I don't want to get into all that computer stuff, I just want to find the origin of my great-grandfather." I wondered out loud what records she might use to achieve this goal without using a computer, but the comment went right past her. So I took a different tack.
Without seeming patronizing, I tried to explain the need for recording your information in a computer. (I do not wish to offend any of the researchers out there who are using paper records) but of course, that discussion went no where. I ended up demonstrating finding a census record online, whereupon the computer system crashed and I lost the copy of census record. Maybe I need to go back to paper? I forged ahead trying mightily to find a way to get her to agree that working on a computer was a good idea, if not absolutely necessary. I thought I was making ground, until she mentioned that she was using New.FamilySearch.org. In reaction I mentioned that New.FamilySearch.org was being replaced by FamilySearch Family Tree. That was the end of the conversation. A dead end, I might say.
I think I am running out of arguments to convince the paper users that computers have become necessary. Have I mentioned that the last time I calculated the number, it would take 80,000 pages just to do one printout of one of genealogy files? Sharing does not seem to be a motivator either. Some people are perfectly happy without touching a computer, but the erstwhile student did mention having a copy of the 1900 U.S. Census record and I was wondering where she got that without a computer. I couldn't imagine her sitting in front of a microfilm reader. She was however impressed when I zoomed in on the online version of the census record, just before the system crashed. She acted like that was the first time she had seen a document online. Maybe it was.
This post has no moral. No tight little suggestive admonition. It is just a baffled wandering into the surreal world of trying to help people with their genealogy.