Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes- including you.
For the times they are a-changin’…
Most would agree that the pace of change in the last 50-100 years- is unprecedented. Nowhere is this more evident than in technological change. Think about it for a minute. There was a time when computers took up rooms in universities; when a phone was used to speak to people; and people wrote letters rather than skyped. The World Wide Web has transformed everything- business, health care, education, and communications- to such an extent that it leaves many of us wondering what we did before Google. And I am left wondering what is ahead and how will it impact my life. Surely any future predictions are guesswork.
The impact of change we are experiencing is due in part to an accelerated rate of change, but also because those changes are far reaching and occur in so many aspects of our lives. Some may not be of our choosing; sometimes we embrace change for the ease and convenience it brings. Regardless, technology can change our day to day lives without us barely realizing it. Who uses an alarm clock anymore? When is the last time you used a map?
I grew up in a time when the pace of change seemed slower. For some time now I have been on a learning curve to master the ubiquitous technical changes, for not to do so can leave one on the wrong side of the digital divide. Sometimes the changes are easy to adopt but others are harder- or more accurately- take longer to learn. I recall feeling frustrated when I started a teaching position and mastering the electronic podium and bulletin board proved more challenging than covering the material in the curriculum.
I enjoy learning complex tasks but I like them to be the ones I want to learn. Instead many are technical pre-requisites to accomplishing anything, accompanied by frustration when things don’t work. I realize that many of my friends and colleagues take to new technologies like a duck to water, but some of us could benefit from a longer learning curve in adopting new ways of doing things. Somehow there is an expectation that we need to be able to do things immediately using processes and features designed by techies for techies. It’s like playing catch up all the time.
Mastering wordpress to launch this blog demonstrates this point. In the interests of getting this blog off the ground, I decided my time was better spent having someone far more proficient in wordpress do it for me. But I thought to myself one day: I really need to take some ownership and learn this stuff. So I enrolled in a beginner’s workshop on wordpress at Ladies Learning Code, a wonderful non-profit organization that makes technological prowess accessible to all.
The first thing I noticed when I entered the class was how young everyone was. The second thing I noticed was how comfortable people were with the material being taught. They seemed to absorb it like a sponge while I sat there concentrating very hard. I was able to understand the basics in the morning but by early afternoon I was clearly in over my head, notwithstanding the helpful staff. It was a most humbling experience. Maybe, as a friend said to me- we need a course for older ladies learning code.
It is really easy to:
- Get frustrated and give up learning anything technically challenging- especially when it doesn’t work easily.
- Feel inept and get down on ourselves for not mastering the changes quickly
- Believe that the way we did things before was better
In the end change happens whether we like it or not. Surely there can be a different way. It’s important to remember:
- There are some technologies we learn and accomplish with ease. Many of us do this really well most of the time.
- There is no prize for doing things quickly. Take the time you need.
- Decide how you want to spend your time. For example, you may want to learn HTML or you may decide to ask for help with the technical stuff while you keep the creative part for you.
Perhaps there is potential for a new enterprise that supports those of us who need a teaching approach tailored to our needs to help make technology accessible. My favourite thing to do however, is to unplug for a while! Turn off the computer, leave the phone somewhere, take a break from the challenging task at hand and enjoy the quiet. It will all be waiting for me later- and hopefully working again.