Gray block computers and whirring machines were the backdrop of my childhood.
My dad was a computer engineer, or as what many of our family friends would call him, the “gadget guy”. Much of his equipment found themselves in whichever places they could fit, whether it was the laundry room, my parent’s bedroom, or me and my sister’s room when my dad gave us our own computer.
When kids were playing with their Barbie dolls or LEGO sets, my siblings and I instead were messing around with the now archaic computer that our dad let us use for play.
The cute thing was that my siblings and I would use it like we actually knew what we were doing, but little did we think that in a few years time we would be using it like a pro.
I didn’t realize for a while that not every kid played with computers like we did. Of course, not every kid’s dad is a computer engineer, or even had the financial means to purchase a computer.
We had computer labs at my elementary school to teach us the very basics of computer use. I remember one of my classmates freakishly staring at me when he realized I was already typing at roadrunner speed without looking down at my keyboard.
“HOW are you doing that?” he asked me with wide eyes.
I sheepishly shrugged my shoulders when in my head was trying to figure out why it was such a big deal.
What I’ve always appreciated about my dad is his penchant for learning and how he genuinely enjoys testing the limits of his knowledge with tech. He had the engineer mentality down to a T. His philosophy was akin to if you have a problem, question or curiosity, you do what you can to either solve or satisfy it. There’s always something to learn and a way to it.
Admittedly when I was a kid, his philosophies went right over my head. Although I was so enthralled in computers, I didn’t appreciate the broader implications of what people could do with them.
But growing up I always knew I had a penchant to investigate and learn, and I largely owe that to my upbringing around computers and how I used it to satisfy my curiosities. What I didn’t know then was that that this would effectively build the foundation of my career in journalism and my ability to dive into stories, all at the convenience of tech.
There were skills I learned simply because I could. I learned basic coding because I literally just wanted to make pretty layouts for webpages. I didn’t realize how valuable this would be to my work in the future until I got to college and realized my professors wanted me to code my own webpages as I had done already.
I also learned how to create vector illustrations on Paint Shop Pro just because I was curious if I could draw on a computer as I could in “real life”. Now I’m churning out infographics and illustrations like it’s nobody’s business, often more intuitively on a computer.
My siblings and I would also end up in one of those wormholes that led you to search one topic after another, after another to see how far we could go with our knowledge. Although seemingly tedious, these deep information dives would set the stage for me learning a skills pretty useful as a reporter.
Everything I learned from growing up on tech has built me into a more dynamic professional. I couldn’t have fathomed how useful skills would be to me in the future, because when I was a kid, these were activities to simply pass the time. They weren’t attributes to me.
We’re in an extremely tech-oriented world today, and I’ll be honest, I couldn’t feel more comfortable. What used to be a backdrop to my childhood is now one of my greatest tools.