Too many people don’t get into digital media because they fear their own lack of experience. No one likes feeling stupid and if you’re not familiar with something or just don’t understand it the default is to feel negatively about it.
Before I start, I’m not saying everyone needs to be on social media or using digital tools. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t write them off because you don’t understand them or feel like it’s too much time and effort to get to understand them.
You don’t need to be an expert to get started or to reap the benefits digital tools offer. You also don’t need to be a teenager to be into social networking. The average age of a Facebook user is 40.5, Twitter is 37.5 and Pinterest is 40.1. It’s true that technology is moving very quickly and you might feel you have too much to catch up on. The good news is, you can just start from where things are now. You don’t need to understand how twitter and facebook worked in the beginning, just think about what you could use them for right now, today.
What teaching has taught me
For the past two years I’ve spent most of my time running training courses in digital media and the biggest hurdle is always convincing people that they don’t need to be an expert. It’s ok to ask questions. Consider that I spend about 70% of my time thinking about digital media and what I can do with it and I am always on the look out for new ideas and tools. I love it when someone on one of my courses shares a new website with me. I ask questions all the time, it’s how you learn.
My fear is that the second you think of yourself as an expert, you stop thinking you need to ask questions. If you’re the expert, you’re the one people come to – you can’t also still be the one asking questions and being confused, can you? Being curious and confused is often the best way to learn something. Park your ego to the side and play with technology.
What my dad has taught me
Not too long after my mum passed away I found myself regularly giving my dad computer tutorials over the phone. My dad taught me how to do so many things in my life. He taught me how to change a tyre, skim stones, make a poached egg, drive, light a BBQ, stand up for myself (this list is pretty endless actually so I’ll stop here). Despite him being the teacher most of my life, he never lost his curiosity and definitely passed it on to me. He has this habit (which drives me nuts) of hanging around when you’re cooking and asking about every ingredient. When you show him holiday pictures, he needs to know the history behind every landmark. He’s addicted to the Discovery Channel and loves a documentary. We disagree all the time and have completely conflicting politics but we never fall out. It drives my sister to distraction but we can disagree and keep discussing ideas until the end of time.
The thing is, considering how technically minded my dad is, for a long time (and probably still now if you were to ask him) he would say he was useless with computers. But he wants to learn! Why would he get me to do it for him when I could teach him and he could do it again and again for himself!?
So, as you can imagine, we have had many a clipped phone call discussing mail merge at Christmas. We’ve fallen out over Microsoft Word but he now has a smart phone and he loves sharing pictures, emailing (which was one particular phone lesson I’ll never forget…) and does most of his banking online. He joined Facebook last year because of a really active local group which shared old pictures from our home town. I’m not sure he’s too excited about it but at least he knows how to use it now and can pop in as and when he pleases.
My point is. You don’t need to be Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. You don’t even need to know who they are. You just need to be curious, willing to ask questions and relaxed about not knowing everything. No one does. Technology moves too fast for anyone to be an expert in everything. More importantly, you don’t need to be an expert to benefit from technology.
Do you want to learn more about digital media?
Excellent. You are going to have lots of fun.
- Find a friend who knows a little more than you – ask them to tell you what they love using and why
- Try it out for yourself. Too scared to dive in? Visit YouTube and watch a few “how to” clips to give you a bit more confidence
- Feed back to your friend about your experience. Did you find something they didn’t know about?
Finally – widen your circle of digital buddies. They don’t need to be very active users, maybe even get together with other friends who are as curious as you.