Sunday, August 19, 2018

Fear of The Unknown

I was with someone who was navigating a new online interface, and they couldn’t find the back button to return to a page they needed. This was a millennial who is very technological. This person then proceeded to say “I feel like an old person.”  I immediately laughed and asked what that meant, and he proceeded to tell me that he couldn’t navigate and had no idea where to go. This started me thinking about how those of us who are older can become stereotyped.

I think many who aren’t familiar with technology become frozen with no idea what to do when faced with this type of experience. I don’t think it’s because we’re incapable of learning how to function in our technological world. I just think our inexperience makes us fearful.  I remember many years ago, when I started using computers, I was terrified I would break the computer. This was reinforced in my training classes when they told us we had to shut down the computer the “right way” so it wouldn’t break! I quickly overcame my fear, but I wonder if aging adults who haven’t used a lot of technology suffer from this fear.

Fear can be a powerful deterrent. At times in my life, I know that I have been afraid to appear stupid. I’m not sure if it’s a hangover from childhood or insecurity or being an introvert, but I had to learn to overcome that fear as an adult. Obviously, I did! I had a very successful career as an educator of children and adults and spent many years as an HR Director and have been a consultant since retirement. As an older adult, I’ve reached a point in my life where I really don’t care how others view me, but I had to face my fear to get to this point.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I hope older adults can put their fears aside and embrace technology. It would help them to have someone in their lives who can encourage them to try new things and ask questions. This support person needs to be patient, to listen carefully, and to take care not to make the learner feel bad when they don’t understand. I have been lucky throughout my life to have people who did just that! As a result, I learned a lot and now have a tremendous appreciation for technology and the joy it brings to my life. I hope you have had a similar experience.

Have you found your tech joy today?


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