Saga Supporter Leo Notenboom tells us to wise up and use our wisdom at all ages, and to stop barking about things that aren't true. I'm with him.
Dear Reader: Leo tossed this idea out at me a while back and then he just did a fine job of writing the piece himself (thank you). The very least I can do is print give it to you here, and add a few choice comments.
Leo Notenboom is a slightly older guy who happens to be very good with tech. That sounds like an oxymoron, but what is more moronic is to make the unfounded assumptions that the only folks good with tech are kids. I have to wonder how the Millennials, now easing into middle age, feel about that. Did they suddenly lose their texting skills at thirty? Overnight, after the big four-oh happened, could they suddenly not figure out how to navigate a web page?
Since the answer is Most certainly not, then I have to ask, and this is directed at myself as well, why on earth we tell ourselves that if we want to solve a problem, find the neighborhood five-year-old whiz kid?
When that kid turns fifteen, will he suddenly turn into a tech idiot?
The old computer saw Garbage In, Garbage Out is just as applicable when it comes to telling ourselves crap about our abilities, and we end up incompetent.
To that then, here is Leo's piece:
I love this quote from Leo's story:
It’s often not about you at all
Technical gobbledygook, as I like to call it, is a huge issue. Some of the biggest barriers to technology are the terminology, the concepts involved, and how they’re presented. If you don’t understand something, it’s not your age; it’s the writer’s inability to communicate in an understandable way.1
People of all ages have trouble with technical gobbledygook.
I’ve commented before that feel like I’m a glorified translator, turning technical gobbledygook into hopefully understandable English. (author bolded)
Since I've been dguilty of this excuse myself, Leo's kind slap up side of the haid, as they say where I was born, was a breath of fresh air.
When I joined the Army, I was faced with a mountain of alphabet soup terms (TDY, for temporary duty, ASAP, as soon as possible and many more). Every industry has its terminology.
I just got back from three days at a travel blogger's conference. CVBs are convention and visitors' bureaus. That industry suffers from the same silliness. Every industry has its own unique terms which you and I, if we are to learn the world we wish to enter, have to learn.
You and I, as we age, are perfectly equipped with a brain which needs exercising. Sure, we may be old enough to remember using manual typewriters, IBM selectrics and the like, but you and I can form new neural pathways like anyone else. I love how Leo points out:
It’s probably obvious by now, but this is something I’m passionate about.
Whatever your age, stop using it as an excuse.
There’s an entire world of possibilities you’re selling yourself short on. You’re stepping away from it every time you make that assumption and every time you have that internal dialogue with yourself.
Foster an attitude of learning. Do it at your own pace, but know that you can.
You’re not too old for this, and I really, really (in case it’s not clear), really want you to stop thinking that.
I am embarrassed to acknowledge that I have indeed said some of those things about my own learning ability. I have a genius IQ. The ONLY thing tripping me up is my tongue. I am perfectly capable of learning how to navigate tech, as my social media buddy JC can testify. Every so often I master something new just as I can get befuddled by something even newer.
I just have to repeat Leo's point: technology presented poorly by people with lousy writing skills has nothing to do with you, but the ineptitude of the writer. The best teachers are able to translate. Just because you can't understand it doesn't make you stupid, or me an idiot. Whoever wrote it needs a better grasp of the English language and how to make concepts relatable.
My mother, who had a formidable IQ, devolved into learned helplessness. Fifty years with my father, who was threatened by her brains, and she gave up trying to learn new things. I grew up watching her learn to be a victim. At the end of her life, if a remote didn't work (and the damned buttons were too small for her to see, in her defense) she would bury it into the dry wall.
That’s a design issue. My mother was neither stupid nor inept. She had macular degeneration. Not her fault. When we design things for where people are in life we, arm them with the skills they need for a better life. How dare we blame them for not being able to use technology (or anything else) when the designers specifically exclude their needs in the first place?
My father, for his part, told me precisely that same thing that Leo said:
"Your mother and I are too old to learn computers."
My father had a prodigious IQ, and he would have found the world of the Internet a massive gift. Yet that gifted man walled himself off later in life, and my mother with him, from that new frontier which would have, in every way, given him immense joy.
And a purpose, mind you, which he needed late in life, as do we all.
Leo is nearly 65. In his article he talks about plenty of oldsters decades older who are teaching tech. So this crap conversation that tech is the world of the young?
I'm with Leo. It's bullshit.
As the author of a prize-winning book on the immense power of words, shame on me for using words to limit my own capacity. Tech is just a tool. Learn the language. Build new neural pathways in your brain. Just like learning Spanish or trying out a new sport. Tech is no different.
It's just one more perfect example of how we can, if we're not careful, allow society's utter disregard for us grey hairs to convince us that we are useless by steering us towards watching the Andy Griffith Show rather than changing the world as we age.
Let's change the world. After all, we've lived in it long enough and we have a lot invested in it. Tech is now part of that world, and the faster we get on that horse and ride it with confidence, the more value we can add.
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