Start small. Less is more. If the terms iPod, Smart Phone, E-Reader, Digital Device are as foreign to you as Sanskrit, it’s time to venture into your local tech outlet small, independent or large. Go in with your head held high and don’t let them see you break a sweat. You’ll be amazed at how many young people (meaning anyone legally young enough to work), will happily swarm to your side, eager to prove how much they know versus what they know. how little you know about the latest digital tool.
Use my strategy. I always start by admitting that I know less than I really do. That approach achieves several goals: first, it reinforces in me that whatever little knowledge I have is accurate, because it has been corroborated by a 16-year-old expert; Second, it gives your salesperson a chance to ‘show’ what he knows. This way, you’ll make a friend who will hopefully guide you through what could probably be a daunting and intimidating buying process. Ideally, he will adopt you as his mentor, protecting him from making today’s overkill as well as tomorrow’s buyer’s remorse.
Then don’t hesitate to stop him immediately: as soon as he utters a cyber word beyond your comprehension, politely interrupt him and claim ignorance. This approach immediately serves as a reality check for his ‘teacher’, forcing him to go back a few terabytes, lower his expectations, and tone down his rhetoric. Your ‘tech mentor’ immediately realizes that you are dealing with someone who is still in a 20th century time warp, and adjusts his sales pitch accordingly.
Once you have their attention as to their level of technological incompetence, mention their interests. Again, it helps to be specific and ‘think small’ here. Is your passion music? Photography? Video? Statistics? Writing? Would you like to learn to use the Web? Establish a presence on Facebook or Twitter? Or do you just not want to be tied to your home phone anymore? Yes. He demurely admits that he still uses a LAN line and doesn’t have a cell phone.
A word of caution. Without a doubt, you will be a victim of all the glitter, the lights, the jargon, the media bombardment that surrounds you. Focus like a laser beam on your limitations, your specific technology goal, and your bank account.
Your goal: to focus on the least sophisticated technology tool that will get you started for the lowest price.
Regardless of what the techie on the sales floor recommends, keep asking them to “dive in” on a simpler device, one with fewer features, not more.
The trick is to strike that balance between what you really need to power your launch into the cyber world, without getting overwhelmed and confused by too many advanced and sophisticated features that you, the tech neophyte, don’t understand or probably will never use. Once again, less is more. Research shows that most of us use less than 10% of the power and features of our technology devices because: a) we are completely unaware of the capabilities of a given technology tool; b) our interests or our work focus and/or require only specific characteristics; c) our level of technical expertise is limited. In other words, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” And, until you learn what you don’t know, you don’t want to become a victim of technology overload. As a general rule of thumb, if you can’t pronounce it and if you can’t describe in your own words what it can do, you probably don’t need or want it.
Are you ready???!!! Aim, aim, aim, shoot! Make a decision. Choose a device. Trust me; Your choice to jump into the world of technology will be a cathartic experience and a defining moment.
“Now what?” you say? “Now that I caught the fish, won the prize, bought the pig, what do I do with it?” Fear not. Help is on the way. In my next segment, I will provide excellent human and material resources that are ready, willing and able to transform you into a cyber user in a very short time and with a minimum of anguish. In fact, trust me, you’ll savor the ride.