iPhone Life magazine

Don't Get Left Behind: Overcoming Your Fear of Technology

Over the years I have met many people who find much of the newest technology intimidating. Many seniors find it challenging, mind boggling, and sometimes outright incomprehensible. Take the smartphone. Just looking at it is distressing for some people. Their initial reaction is to steer away from such devices, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Only Constant is Change

In my case, I am an old, wannabe biker. Never rode with any club, unless riding with one’s wife is a club. Biking was the passion of my younger days. Professionally, I taught computers to teens and college students. Those were fun classes, but as I got older, that road became more and more challenging. The ever-changing software was slowly getting to me. There were multiple versions of everything: MS Office 2003, 2007, 2010, Windows 1, 2, 7, 8, and then, numbering changed to lettering: ME, XP. There were limitless iterations, and yet I loved it all. I loved the learning, the changes, and the innovations.

Next came the hardware changes: shrinking desktops with a single screen, then two; laptops as big as coffee table books; tablets, smaller than family magazines; and finally, the amazing little smartphones. At last, technological paradise—and my heart was still beating and my lungs still breathing! The nonstop changes were like a heavenly classroom to a life-long learner like me.

Then there are smartphone apps. Every visit to the Apple Store is like Christmas morning. You’re the kid with all the gifts, an endless number of new apps promising loads of fun, excitement, and productivity. With so many apps available, Apple should consider changing its logo to a Christmas tree!

Finding the Fountain of Youth in the App Store

To younger users more familiar with today’s technologies, this multitude of app variations is no big deal; to those of us in the older crowd, these variations can be intellectual puzzles that pique the curiosity but also boggle the mind. On second thought, maybe they are simply a path to continual rejuvenation, the fountain of youth for aging minds.

Everyone can master the newest technology with a little bit of guidance and empathy, and a lot of encouragement and support. If you are one of those who find new technology a stressful challenge, here are five things to keep in mind as you get started:

  1. Stay positive and be optimistic. You will succeed sooner or later.
  2. Find help wherever you can: on the Internet, from friends, from relatives, even from the local library.
  3. Avoid being discouraged; everyone has had to learn something sometime.
  4. Take breaks from the effort. Leave it for a day if you have to. You will be surprised what may happen the next day when you come back to it.
  5. Laugh a lot. Learning new stuff is a road with many bumps. Enjoy the ride knowing that you will get to your destination eventually.

My Final Words 

Keep at it, but be gentle with yourself; everyone struggles sometimes. You will catch on tomorrow or the next day. Though programmers write software in hopes of minimizing user stress, almost every one of us has had days where we would like enter data by sledgehammer.

My journey of life-long learning continues every day as I explore the Apple Store. As I examine and play with new apps, I will write my comments, criticisms, and compliments; but remember, all this comes not from a technological expert but from an old range rider whose motto is a variation of what granny said, “Have an Apple a day, my boy!”

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Richard Szpin's picture
Richard Szpin's BMW has become the WWW. His motorcycling passion has taken him from central Canada to Newfoundland, Vancouver, Martha’s Vineyard, Deal’s Gap, North Carolina, and New Orleans. He has ridden to many great north American cities and written about it. Now he rides the web and is learning to blog about his adventures at www.szpin.ca