I have a confession. When I buy a new tech device, something simple like a digital camera or a digital photo frame, I get all excited at the cashier as I’m buying it. First, because I always buy on sale and am happy at the good deal. Second, because I think I need whatever it is. I look at the box and I get tingles. I then sit it on the seat next to me and gaze lovingly at it when waiting at red lights. On getting home, I cradle it in my arms and take it to my office where I gently place it on my desk.
Where it sits.
Why? Because I hate the learning curve and the fact that it seems every time I turn on a new device or try to learn/adapt to a new thing/fad/app, I get initially confused and frustrated. Today, there are even less manuals and you either have to go online or, gulp, if you have a problem brave the voice-menu options that come with the number next to the sticker that says, “Before you return this, please call…”
I literally had a new camera sit in front of me for weeks before I opened the box. On at least one occasion, I returned whatever I’d gotten and never took the chance of opening it and daring to turn it on.
Now, we all know this is something that is particular to many in my generation – boomers – and those older. Of course there are those that can adapt very easily to technological changes as a good friend of mine did back at the start of the Internet boom. But, he was one of those guys that always liked to take things apart and put them back together so he doesn’t really count.
Truthfully, while I still do let things sit a while, most every time I open the box and unpack everything, turn it on, try it out, I tend to figure it out pretty quickly. The last time was with my new printer. It worked, though heck if I was going to try and get the wireless function hooked up. When it runs out of ink, I’ll probably just go buy a new one. Just kidding…it’s a laser B&W printer so its ink will last longer and I will figure out how to change the cartridge. I will also cringe at the cost of that cartridge.
Let’s discuss new apps next. I’m very old-fashioned when it comes to change. I don’t like it. So, if I have to learn something new, I really want someone to hold my hand and show me. That is why when I began working online and started using Social Media beyond email, I hired a private consultant/tutor to teach me. It was the best money I ever spent.
She wanted me to try Twitter, Tweet-Chats, upgrade from my Blackberry to an iPhone (I had already switched from PC to Apple, but I was nice and comfortable with my BB), and much more. I resisted each new thing she suggested with a very mature, “Do I have tooooo?” Eventually I relented and she held my hand and taught me the ropes.
Each time, upon getting over that initial hurdle, I embraced the new thing. First it was Twitter, then #blogchat aka Tweet Chats, which became my Sunday Night date each week, and later it was switching my website from a free platform to a custom-designed WordPress theme. By then, I’d also switched teachers/tutors but not because of any problem with the first one. That’s another story irrelevant to this column.
I now consider myself pretty able at working the things I use. Upon “Going Apple,” I bought the One2One tutoring they offer – the best deal out there – and learned how to use iPhoto and iMovie pretty darn well. I took advantage of that $99 per year weekly lesson for well over two years and probably had at least 75 hours of private instruction.
You see, I like the handholding because I learn better that way. When I picked up Instagram, I actually figured it out all by myself. That was a defining moment. Will I do the same with the digital frame I now have to buy since I can’t find a single 4X6 old-fashioned photo album anywhere!?
Which of these thoughts and experiences resonate with you? What new technology have you knowingly avoided out of fear? Which devices or apps have you embraced with success? Do your kids help you or, like mine, just give you the look that says, “Dad, really?”
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