Easter Sunday I had dinner with my 67-year-old mother and her 71-year-old boyfriend (officially making us a modern family). While standing in line, the subject of Facebook came up. In 2009, Facebook users in the U.S. grew from 42 million and change to 103 million and change! That’s 145% growth in one year! The fastest growing demographic, women over the age of 55! Source Social media is a mainstream phenomenon now, it’s a part of our society. While discussing, Mallory (mom’s boo) innocently turned to me and asked why he would get a Facebook profile when he enjoys spending time with my mom? Upon further discussion I realized that he literally thought that if he were to become friends with mom on Facebook, he would no longer be able to meet her for dinner, spend afternoons at the movies or see her socially outside of Facebook!
I’m constantly amazed by how often I meet people who are proudly resisting the digital revolution. I have friends who refuse to get a home computer, smart phone or GPS. They’re passionate about the purpose of phones: “They’re used to talk to people and make phone calls, not for texting!” These same people are also the ones who latch onto the evils of technology. When I launched our Fan page for our company, I had one of our senior execs look at my with horrible disbelief. He thought Facebook and MySpace were for pedophiles to meet victims and nothing more!
The reason, of course, is because it helps bolster their desire to avoid technology. All of this, ultimately, is fear. Afraid of looking or feeling stupid, afraid of losing control and afraid of the unknown. But, who can argue that the advancement of technology has benefited society? (The Amish and ultra-conservatives are dismissed for this viewpoint) GPS has saved many arguments with the women in my life. It has introduced one new argument. It seems a lot of those same women who would get angry because I wouldn’t pull over to ask directions now have an intense desire to prove the GPS wrong. Whaddayado?
The world is changing and we must adapt!
Computers, the iPhone, the microprocessor, all these things have made the world we live in better! Your coffee pot will turn on and make a pot without your help. Your brakes know when you’re going to lose traction, so your car automatically pumps them thousands of times a second so you don’t lose control of your vehicle. The movies I watch on my Blue-Ray DVD player are far better than those I watched on VHS as a kid. Even communication has increased due to technology. I can communicate with hundreds of people at one time with Twitter. I can find friends and know where they are with 4square. I can locate restaurants with yelp and have first-hand knowledge of what the place is like before I ever set foot in the door!
Here I am on a ship that was built from technology that hasn’t changed in hundreds of years, intentionally built to be an authentic vessel. And there, on the binnacle, just below the compass was a GPS unit. Now I have friends who would argue that they prefer a captain who can navigate with nothing more than a compass. Not me. I want a captain who will take advantage of every modern aid made available to him! I want my doctor, airline pilot, police officer, fireman, and lawyer to do the same!
1.) Give them facts, not opinions
You must educate first. We all need to know why we should choose something and most of us are leery of adopting something just because everyone else is doing it. We eventually do, but no in the beginning. Teaching someone about the purpose and uses of the technology has to come first.
2.) Don’t make them feel stupid
You have to approach technology as though it’s wonderful and magical. There’s a temptation to feel superior or smarter because you have already conquered the curve. Avoid this. Be humble when teaching someone about technology.
3.) Be patient and let them see you using it
Don’t get frustrated. Pull out your cell phone and slowly send a text message so they can see you do it. If you go fast, it’s going to scare them off. Then, use their phone to send one. Show them that it can be done and they don’t need a new gizmo to do it. Log in to your Facebook account so they see all the things you see. Then, help them set up their page.
4.) Offer praise and use it with them
Send texts and leave messages on their wall. Include them in the loop, because they’re not outsiders anymore. encouragement works just as well for your wife, boyfriend, boss and grandparents. We all love to be praised!
5.) Introduce them to more new stuff!
Once they’ve conquered texting or Facebook, get them on twitter or TiVo. Success is the right time to introduce more pieces to the puzzle.
Finally, if all else fails, give up. Realize that not everyone is going to be tech savvy. There are those folks who prefer outhouses and hors-drawn carriages. Just don’t make the mistake of putting someone in that category until after you’ve tried to get them to adapt.