Start small. Less is more. If the terms iPod, Smart Phone, E-Reader, digital device are as foreign to you as Sanskrit, it’s time to venture out to your local small, independent or large ‘big box’ technology outlet. Walk in with your head held high, and don’t let them see you sweat. You’ll be surprised how many young people (that is, anyone legally young enough to work), will happily swarm to your side, eager to demonstrate how much they know vs. how little you know about the latest digital tool.
Use my strategy. I always start by admitting that I know less than I really do. That approach accomplishes several objectives: first, it reinforces within me the fact that whatever meager knowledge I do have is accurate, because it has been substantiated by a 16-year-old expert; secondly, it gives your salesperson the opportunity to ‘show off’ what he/she knows. You will thereby make a friend who, hopefully, will guide you through what could probably be a daunting, intimidating purchase process. Ideally, he will adopt you as your mentor, shielding you from making today’s overkill purchase as well as tomorrow’s feelings of buyer’s remorse.
Next, don’t hesitate to stop him immediately — as soon as he utters one cyber-word beyond your comprehension, Politely interrupt him and claim ignorance. This approach immediately serves as a reality check for your ‘teacher’, compelling him to back up a few terabytes, to lower his expectations, and to tone down his rhetoric. Your ‘tech tutor’ immediately realizes that in you he’s dealing with someone who is still in a 20th century time warp, and adjusts his sales pitch accordingly.
Once you have his attention as to your level of technology incompetence, then mention your interests. Again, here it helps to be specific and to ‘think small’. Is your passion music? Photography? Video? Statistics? Writing? Would you like to learn how to use The Web? Establish a Facebook or Twitter presence? Or do you just no longer want to be tethered to your home phone? Yes. You demurely admit – you still use a LAN line and don’t own a cell phone!
A word of caution. You will undoubtedly, fall prey to all the glitz, the lights, the jargon, the media blitz that surrounds you. Focus, laser-beam-like, on your limitations, your specific technology goal, and your bank account.
Your goal – to zero in on the least sophisticated tech tool that will help you get started for the lowest price.
Whatever the techie on the sales floor recommends, keep asking him to ‘drill down’ to a simpler gadget – one with less features, not more.
The trick is to achieve that balance between what you really need to jump start your launch into the cyber world, without becoming overwhelmed and confused with too many advanced, sophisticated features that you, the tech neophyte, do not understand or probably will never use. Again, less is more. The research shows that most of us use less than 10% of our technology devices’ power and features, because: a) we’re totally unaware of a given tech tool’s capabilities; b) our interests or our work focus on and/or require only specific features; c) our level of technical expertise is limited. In other words, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” And, until you do learn about what you don’t know, you don’t want to become a victim of technology overload. A rule of thumb, if you can’t pronounce it, and if you can’t describe in your own words what it can do, you probably don’t need or want it.
Are you ready???!!! Aim, aim, aim – fire! Make a decision. Choose a device. Trust me; your choice to make a leap into the tech world will be a cathartic experience and a defining moment.
“Now, what?” you say? “Now that I’ve caught the fish, won the prize, bought the pig – what do I do with it?” Not to fear. Help is on the way. In my next segment, I’ll provide great human and material resources that are ready, willing and able to transform you into a cyber-user in no time at all, and with a minimum of angst. In fact, trust me, you will savor the journey.