This is one of my little internal mantras if I encounter something that I am hesitant to try: Do something that scares you everyday. Whether it is introducing myself to someone new or learning a new skill, I constantly remind myself that pushing out of my comfort zone every day helps me take advantage of the width of life. Many people are hesitant, or scared really, of new technologies. They are foreign; can be confusing; in fact, downright intimidating. Douglas Adams put things into perspective when he said:
“I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”
Having just surpassed 35, I can somewhat relate to this. I will admit, Twitter was a bit of a mystery to me in 2007 because I didn’t adopt it immediately nor did I understand why I would want to share my thoughts 20 times per day. However, once I spent the time to understand how to make it work for me I am getting into the Twitter groove. According to Douglas Adams, Twitter was new and exciting to me and I could probably have a career in social media. Well, here I am…blogging and tweeting.
Now, consider what was new and exciting technology for these age groups when they were 15-35 years-old:
- 50 year-olds? PCs, laptops, early cell phones, early email, early web browsing.
- 70 year-olds? Liquid Paper, audio cassettes, handheld calculators, word processors.
- 90 year-olds? Color TV, transistor radio.
- And 30 year-olds? Email, web browsing, blogging, Napster, EBay, Google, Facebook, YouTube, wireless everything, smartphones, Twitter, iPhone, iPad, Apps.
Again, if we buy into the wisdom of Mr.Adams, everything in the last bullet point is pretty much against the natural order of things for anyone over 50. That doesn’t mean it is harder for someone 50+ to learn them, it just seems scarier. Insert mantra here.
In fact, I think you will find that learning these new technologies is amazingly transformative. Not because they necessarily change your life. It is because adopting new technologies, or any new skill, makes you think and see differently. For example, after tweeting for only a few weeks I would get a hankering to immediately tell specific friends and family about the funny little details of my day. I have, for the large part, resisted this temptation in order to control the time I spend tweeting, however my brain, along with the brains of most of the generation that follows me, is structured to think and function in real-time micro-sharing. I know, I know, it’s not for everyone. But you have to admit, it is an amazing tool and a cool way to feel connected to people you know and even those you might not know.
Another one of my mantras? ‘It’s always easier than you think.’ Of course, to truly learn a new skill and technology you need to display some stick-to-it-iveness but getting over that first hurtle of simply trying it usually gives you the boost of confidence and/or motivation you need to get your technology groove on. The simple fact is, learning and curiosity keep your brain fit and the more you try things, the more confidence you gain to keep trying more because your brain starts to think on a more optimistic track.
If you are wondering where to start, I would recommend investing in an iPad for pain-free tech adoption. It is fairly easy to learn how to use a handful of the applications that interest you the most i.e reading books, email, games, web surfing, video-calling, etc. Tell me, what new technologies have come into your life this year? What fears have you conquered lately?