24 Jul 2023
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Human Stubbornness: Denying Help in a Digital World

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By Tyrone Showers
Co-Founder Taliferro


My confidant recently regaled me with a tale that in its simplicity laid bare the complex dynamics of human stubbornness and the denial of help. He spun a narrative involving one of his acquaintances, a hapless soul besieged by an unending stream of technological issues, a veritable Odysseus lost in the choppy seas of digital misfortune.

Dysfunction abounds

The man's computer system, a maze of dysfunction and inefficiency, was as baffling as the labyrinth of Crete. The Herculean task of merely locating a contact in his digital Rolodex was akin to a quest for the Holy Grail, consuming no less than fifteen minutes of his precious time. As if this weren't enough, the disjointed state of his systems necessitated the monotonous task of inputting identical information up to five times, a tiresome echo of Sisyphus' eternal struggle.

Observing this modern-day Prometheus suffering at the hands of a vulture-like computer system, I felt compelled to intervene. I made a gallant offer to be his technological knight-errant, vowing to usher him into a brave new world where data would glide seamlessly from one task to another, a world where system efficiency would resemble a well-oiled machine more than a clunky, steam-spewing locomotive.


I optimistically anticipated a prompt response, envisioning a swift rescue from the man's digital distress. However, the response I received was not one of gratitude, but baffling denial. Despite my confidant’s endorsement and my earnest intentions, the besieged associate displayed a resistance that was succinctly encapsulated in his simple, yet jarring statement, "He doesn't want to do it."

The Human condition

This confounding response nudged me to ponder over the intricacies of the human condition, specifically, our paradoxical propensity to reject assistance even when it dangles tantalisingly within our reach. It seemed as though I found myself more embroiled in cognitive therapy than in technological troubleshooting, and I felt compelled to pen down this piece more as a cathartic exercise than a journalistic venture.

This peculiar human trait is not confined to the realm of technology. Its manifestation was starkly evident during the grim phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world grappled with the invisible enemy, tales emerged of individuals stubbornly refusing treatment. I heard unsettling narratives of people lying in hospital beds, their bodies engaged in a relentless battle against the viral invader. Paradoxically, rather than welcoming the aid provided by dedicated healthcare professionals, they expressed their defiance in startlingly hostile ways. Medical caregivers, the tireless foot soldiers in this war, were met with disdain, sometimes even spitting and stabbing attempts, by those they endeavoured to help.

The scenario brought to mind the fable of the drowning man who refused the lifeline thrown to him, choosing instead to wait for divine intervention. The obstinacy on display served to underscore the confounding nature of human behaviour, where assistance is often rejected in favour of maintaining control or due to an ingrained fear of change.

As I muse over these behavioural patterns, I am reminded of the sage words of psychologist Carl Rogers, who opined, "The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change." Perhaps this rings true for our reluctant technophobe and those who rejected medical help during the height of the pandemic. It is not until we acknowledge our struggle, and accept that assistance is not an admission of defeat but an opportunity for improvement, that we can truly open ourselves up to change.


What, pray tell, is the matter with us? Why do we insist on navigating treacherous waters single-handedly when the offer of a steady, guiding hand is within our reach? These questions, while intriguing, may not yield easy answers. But in the quest for these answers lies the essence of our shared human condition, a poignant reminder of our innate complexities and contradictions.

Tyrone Showers