A message for the technologically incompetent

by George Lovell | | 0 comments

So often, people introduce themselves to me as a "Technophobe",  "Luddite" or "Dinosaur", typically accompanied by a shameful smile. I suspect in many cases that leading with mild self-deprecation is a defence mechanism. The customer expresses their own ignorance and incompetence up front to save on judgement or embarrassment in our subsequent interaction. Either that or it is a subtle request to speak on their level, in the most basic terms - perhaps because they've been made to feel inadequate by other, more tech-savvy people before, who can come across as condescending.  

I suspect that they do not fear the technology itself - rather the opinions and judgement of others which ultimately makes them feel insecure, out-of-touch, old and incapable. Sometimes people will compensate by signalling their competence in other areas - subtly pointing out that they are in fact very good with home DIY, for example, or that they are simply too busy and stressed to deal with tech at the moment. We all feel the need to play this card sometimes.

Such irrational fear can make us reluctant to seek help from a doctor, mechanic, personal trainer, therapist, hairdresser, childcare, or phone shop, choosing to avoid or delay it to our detriment.

To a doctor, your intimate areas are just a bit of skin amongst the ten they saw before lunch, and the thousands they'll see throughout their career. The doctor uses their knowledge and experience to provide treatment and recommendations, not to pass judgement or gossip with their colleagues. I wonder if many patients lead with "I'm really bloated today" or "it's cold in here", before stripping off... 

Personally, I don't care if it takes me an hour to change my windscreen wipers, as long as no one else can see - that would feel awful. What if everyone else finds out?!

Same feelings; different circumstances. 

Our 50,000-year-old human brains cannot stand feeling judged or mischaracterised by our inability to do something, such as use an iPad, because being left behind has historically been a threat to our survival and ability to reproduce. You wouldn't want to be a burden on the tribe when there are limited food and partners, and more competent youngsters vying to take your place.

In 2023, these things are not a threat to your survival. Unfortunately, part of your brain still thinks it's 50,000 BCE.

This trait is observable in a phone shop where, in most cases, an entire relationship is formed by addressing a technical issue - an area in which the worker has greater knowledge and experience than the customer. That's how it should be. That's why it's their job. And if done correctly, it will close that gap ever so slightly, pulling the customer up by solving a problem together, without judgement.

Recognise that every single human brings a unique and valuable skill set to their community.

After all, it wouldn't be fair to judge someone's entire character by their ability to upload photos to the cloud.

And in reality, most self-proclaimed Technophobes are far too self-critical and are much more capable than they realise. It just takes a little bit of effort and patience.

Calling yourself a Luddite doesn't get you off the hook, but I understand where you're coming from.
Thanks for reading!

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