Back in the dark ages, I recall having computer classes at secondary school. These involved learning such things as how to program a computer. Unfortunately, it didn’t include learning the basics such as how to turn it on, and how not to be afraid of such an infernal contraption.
Needless to say, I got nowhere, and did not learn how to program a computer, therefore I am now not an exorbitantly paid IT person. I moved on to tertiary education, where we had computers to type up assignments and use spreadsheets. Spread-what? It was an agricultural college, after all, and us horsey, farmy types were not really into technology in the early 90s. I basically learned to be even more scared of them.
Then, several jobs later, the chain of bookshops for which I worked got computerised cash registers; and I began to have a little more understanding and realised that you can’t really break them (well, you can try to break them, and they can freeze, but there’s usually a way round things – if you’re patient and don’t just keep hitting keys randomly).
Eventually I conquered my fear entirely and understood that the computer was there to help me, not to dominate me or feed on my brain. That part is not scheduled to come for another century or so, according to sci-fi writers. Phew.
Now the relatively new world of social media has taken over in a tsunami of words, images and audio, flooding every industry and every little nook and cranny of the world. Except of course in those areas that wi-fi can’t reach, like the peak of Mt Everest, or parts of my backyard. Actually, I heard you can get reception on Mt Everest, the air is pretty clear up there.
I notice that many newspaper headlines (which of course I read online) are often more about the flurry of consternation on social media rather than the actual event that upset them, such as last week’s reaction on Twitter to the decidedly pathetic obituary of author Colleen McCullough in The Australian newspaper. Twitter users started to post their own fake obituaries under the #ozobituary hashtag, thus satirising the incident nicely.
Happily, a lot of social commentary is used for good, not evil – well, maybe not if you’re reading the public comments on certain newspaper articles – and you can make a lot of friends out there if you choose carefully and use your opportunities wisely.
So, what am I getting at here? Well, today I use a computer at work with multiple programs (the latest in a long chain of various programs used by different industries that I’ve worked in), plus two laptops at home. I have this blog, several Facebook pages, Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, Amazon and so many, many more accounts – even one for ordering environmentally-friendly dog-poo bags (yes, this is true!). Oh, and of course I travel NOWHERE without my smart phone, even if it has very few apps on it compared to most people. I couldn’t live without access to Google, after all. Oddly, most of this is because I’m a writer, and the way to get your writing out there these days is to get on social media. A massive leap from using ink on animal hide!
Um yes, back to the point of this post! Make technology your friend, not your foe. Stop saying how hard it is – it really is a state of mind for most of us – listen to your teachers, and be patient – don’t belt that keyboard into submission!
You’ll gradually find it will help far more than hinder, and connect you with amazing people from all over the world 🙂
Oh, and write down the instructions – that helps!