Are my odds of working in a technical field substantially lower because I don't "buy into" the lifestyle?
I have a hard time articulating this question, so let me explain. Since graduating from univesity with a "soft science" BA, I've learned to value technical skills and abilities. I work at a neuroscience lab. Some researchers can do it all: operate the machinery, process the data, run stats, build computational models, etc. Other researchers seem to be "area experts" that have to ask others for help with some or all of these tasks. I've developed a lot of respect for the former, not as much for the latter.
I've been learning to use the tools we have at work: scientific apparatus, data analysis software, stats, and so on. I really enjoy it. Sadly, there's not much room for growth in the research assistant world. Most places it's a temporary position on the way to grad school. Were I to leave or be let go, I doubt I'd be able to find a similar position, I'm just aging out of it. I've been hoping to make a lateral move and explore tech-y jobs that aren't explicitly connected with academia. I have a long way to go, since my skills are developing, but also highly specialized.
In any event, I've been talking to former classmates and acquaintances about what's out there, and one thing always seems to stand out: I'm amazingly technophobic. I have zero interest in consumer electronics. I don't own an iPad, iPod, or an iPhone. I barely even use my cell phone, certainly not for web-surfing or recording video. I drive without a GPS. I don't chase benchmark scores. I have no idea what's happening in the CPU market. For a long time I resisted buying a big-ass flat-screen TV. I'm not on Live, or Steam, or WoW.
This makes it tough to talk to techies I know, who are eager to show off their new cell phones and other toys. I like things nobody's getting excited about, very bread-and-butter, rudimentary things everybody already knows. I think SQL is cool. I get a kick out of frequency spectrum analysis in Matlab. I think it's fun to learn about log-linear modeling in R. Somebody showed me Processing
the other day — my first reaction was "I want to learn it!"
To sum up, I feel like I don't have much in common with techies. We have a hard time finding topics of common interest. Given the tightly knit professional communities in the tech world, I feel that lacking techie "cred," like being able to chat about some cool new Android app or whatever, could be a serious professional impediment. Are my worries irrational? Are you a technophobic techie? What was your experience like?