Loving technology is a relationship that lasts a lifetime.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and as a romantic and fool for love, this article is about a very extraordinary relationship but it’s not hearts, flowers or candy. I want to connect all of the lonely hearts who feel technically tested, digitally distanced, and otherwise afraid of having a relationship with technology.
I am nearly 59 years old so that places me in the “Boomer” generation, still, a very populous generation, only surpassed by Millennials in the last three years. What this means is there are a lot of grandparents relying on their grandchildren to show them how to operate their smartphones and use features like navigation, Bluetooth and automatic windshield wipers in their cars. These are things that I have to learn and master on my own because; 1. I do not have children and 2. I am technically proficient. I wouldn’t classify myself as a nerd, particularly because I don’t love a lot of things that nerds typically love and do, but I have always had an interest in science, technology, and new innovations and concepts, in general, intrigue me.
In years past, before the “age of millennials,” I credit loving relationships I had with men who helped me become skillful at technology. I married a man who was brilliant in many areas and he was a perfect instructor – he not only showed me how to do something but he explained the dynamics behind how it worked and encouraged my curiosity by giving me hands-on projects to do with him to demonstrate the information he was imparting. We built a Heathkit 25-inch-color-TV together and it worked beautifully and for more years than our marriage. I had to add the word “color” with TV because back then black & white TVs were still being sold.
Though my marriage ended, I dated several other guys (not at the same time) who each possessed many technical abilities. One boyfriend was an IT professional which at first came in handy when my computer seemed to do that blue screen of death more often than not. I’d watch what he would do to fix it and asked him questions and eventually, I learned enough to handle most problems on my own. He became a successful IT pro by taking classes and studying many technical manuals, but when he was faced with an unusual problem that needed fixing and didn’t have time to go find a manual and read he would go on the Internet and post a question on sites categorized as bulletin boards run by technicians who were experts in a particular computer and network technology. This was before Google and learning this method of information gathering back then helped me find solutions to problems, and it gave an amazing insight into the potential of the Internet and the foreseen advancements that soon followed. My love affair with the new tech and digital universe began right then at first sight.
My love for new technology and my analog based career came together as one in 1996 when I was working for Group W Productions (TV syndication) and asked my boss if we could start promoting our TV shows on the Internet on a service called America Online. My boss being the progressive man that he was and is, said YES! My interest and career path made me into an advanced user of digital technology, but I had to keep up with the Gen X generation of leaders and co-workers at the companies I worked for after Group W, which was mostly traditional media companies (Disney, Sony, Mattel, CBS) but in their online departments. I didn’t love being the older person in my group and it was tough to handle more than I care to admit, but my apprehension gave way to being accepted by my office mates. To remain competitive and grow my relationship with the younger, up and coming tech community, I had to be able to learn new things quickly.
The adults of my generation have so much knowledge to share with Millennials, but we must be on an equal level and embrace the technology they love to connect with them. Most Baby Boomers are either retired or pre-retired and still working because they might be supporting their Gen X children and millennial grandchildren, or just can’t survive on social security. Physical or traditional labor begins to be less available for older adults and the workforce in general because robotics is replacing human workers. But hang on to your heart, as the Information Age brought forth great strides in technology with the Internet and an economy that boomed with multi-billion dollar American companies such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook, an imagination based economy is emerging. Intuitive and creative thinking will drive new businesses and growth in the job sector. Machines don’t have empathy, machines can’t love anything or have the capacity connect experience with an imagination that humans have. I cannot think of a more qualified generation than the Boomers to excel in the Imagination Age because we are problem solvers. We’ve grown up living on the forefront of innovation all along the way; we have seen and been a part of the evolution of mechanical systems to electronic technology and through our imagination, science, and engineering we rocketed through the space age and arrived on a digital planet.
Bill Gates, 61 years old, and the founder Microsoft loves the deep focus that supports his best work by taking a week off twice a year to retreat to his secluded cottage in a wooded forest of the Pacific Northwest. This sounds so romantic and it is when you realize he is renewing his relationship with his creative self, spending quality time and growing his love for learning by reading, studying and thinking about the future of Microsoft, his charitable foundation and future business ventures that will benefit mankind. His love and respect for creativity drove him to imagine and innovate in ways that will benefit the world forever and this love continues on into his life as he evolves.
The Boomer generation is going to be around for many years and technology will evolve faster, but many adults won’t be able to keep up with the pace to embrace it. The call to every man and woman, who is afraid to tech-up, is to open up, be vulnerable and make a long-term commitment to a deep relationship with digital technology. The survival of our economy, protecting our way of life and keeping America Great is at stake. As much as the new administration seems to promote a falling back to the antiquated Industrial Age, we are at the point of surpassing the Information Age, knocking at the door to the Imagination Age. Advancing innovations that will be based on concepts from collaborations of people who will connect and communicate clearly and passionately to solve problems and fill society’s needs and will generate billions of dollars of revenue with new businesses. We should be aware standing still and going backward will only force other countries to move forward and leave the USA behind as they become stronger in areas of collaboration, connectivity, creativity, imagination and innovation. This is why, in my opinion, building walls and shutting people out of our hearts and country is the wrong direction for us.
What can you do to get up to speed and be fully present in today’s technically dynamic world? Do your deep work:
- Start by learning to be a proficient user of every bit of technology you own and use at home and in your workplace. You will find that once you master a device, application or program that other devices and programs you use have similar operating features, therefore you will learn new things quickly.
- Exercise your brain by focusing, alone without distractions, on what you are trying to learn. When you set aside quality time for yourself to learn something new you develop a deeper understanding of it and increase your ability to learn new things quickly.
You don’t have to be a programmer or a tech genius to be skilled at using a smartphone, update your security settings on Facebook, or attach a file to your email message. You just have to lose your fear of technology and be open to love it. When you do you’ll see how this bridges a gap between generations and you’ll be part of a global community. The generational connection is the first step to reaching out and being part of something bigger than you. Your ability to learn new things quickly will allow you take advantage of opportunities in the future to share and prosper with all those you love.
Originally published for my column Nish Notes on The Good Men Project.
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