Are You Keeping Up with Technology and Social Media Changes?

Category: Weekly Columns


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.

And sits.

And 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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  • Casudi

    I hated this about myself ~ buying something new and then being intimidated by the learning curve! Still happens sometimes but what I learned years ago (I got my first computer in 1982 & using visicalc with enormous difficulty to track stocks!) was there is a mentality, mindset behind everything and once I grasped that, I found the learning curve went fast.

    So I always ask myself …..exactly what did the designer, developer have in mind with this product, app, automobile, website? I’ve noticed if I buy the same brand, whether a car (AUDI) or a camera (COOLPIX or LUMIX) I get the hang of things fast…so of course I tend to be very Brand loyal as it makes the learning curve easier.

    However, I will admit when I buy a new appliance or such I just wish for the simple old days, with an on/off switch and a high/med/low temperature setting, on the other hand when I figure something new and complex out I do get a whole ton of satisfaction!

    A very relevant post for some of us, thank you Bruce!

    • Bruce Sallan

      I appreciate the comments, Carolyn…sticking with the same brand is indeed a good strategy IF you can!

  • Josh

    I am a big fan of learn by doing. I tend to take things out of the box and start messing around with them ASAP. However, when I have had spare cash and time I have been known to hire a tutor. Never hurts.

    • Bruce Sallan

      When will you come over and help me with Google+ Josh?

  • netster

    Hello there my friend! 🙂

    I figure out most of the new things myself. People ask me how to use a computer even before I know how to. I guess my face has been stamped “Computer” since day 1.

    These day people ask me how to use an App or how to use a phone. Just few weeks ago an elderly asked me how to use her Samsung Galaxy S 3 while on our way home on a plane. 

    I guess stranger trust my computer face too. hahaha


    • Bruce Sallan

      YOU are of the generation that “gets” it…helping that elderly woman was a blessing for her. I wish it came natural for me, but I have learned so much and am pretty adept at much my peers can’t even begin to do!

  • netster

    By the way, I love the holding hand. In fact, it is the best way to learn. I don’t mind (no mumbling) to teach people step by step how to operate thing until they know how-to.

    My wife thinks I’m in a wrong occupation.

    • Bruce Sallan

      I wish you lived slightly closer (to me)! 

  • David Weber

    First, I recommend the book, “The Empty-Nest Road Trip Blues.”

    Second, I can relate to Bruce’s comments about keeping up with technology. I simply do not do it. The one recent exception: I received an iPod for Christmas; waited until I had purchased my new desktop system, an iMac, this past April, before activating the iPod; and now I love my iPod.  I have listened to it no more than about three times with headphones or earbuds, though.  For all practical purposes I listen to it in the car, in my office in a dock and at home in another dock.

    I have a Windows Nokia phone and dislike it.  Even more than I disliked the BlackBerry I had that broke.  In about 11 months, I think it is, I will have paid off the Nokia and will get a “stupid phone,” something that I can use simply to make phone call and send and receive text messages with.

    • Bruce Sallan

      HEY! How’d you get a copy of my new book!? It’s not even out yet! LOL…I gave the Professor a copy to review…and I appreciate it very much, David. I’ve waited as long or longer than you did with the iPod with some purchased items – heck, they’re out-of-date sometimes when I finally open ’em up!

  • InspectorClouseau

    Very well done.  

    • Bruce Sallan

      Well, YOU should know! TY

  • Greg Mischio

    Bruce – a great post.  I think everyone feels the learning curve, but once you slide past it, things get fun and exciting.  I notice that kind of resentment people have who are reluctant to try these new things. My folks are almost antagonistic towards social media, and I had a client who I had to pull into it kicking and screaming.  Love the graphic at the top of your post!  I’m on your RSS now!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thx Greg. My parents could NEVER learn how to use their VCR…even when I wrote out instructions and put colored dots on the remote! It goes with the generations!