We have a system to process credit cards at home. Every so often they send me an email that says I have to update some wacko-gizmo site. I look at it and it is all Greek to me. Actually, I could make a stab at it if it were Greek. More on that below.
I find myself looking at this page and feeling totally stupid. They ask these questions and use the words like normal people would know. There are like 30 questions and I don’t know what any of them mean, much less know the answer to them.
At this point, I can do one of three things:
Call or email tech support. This is probably the best option. I wish I had a dollar for every hour I have spent with tech support over the years. I am always amazed when people are unwilling to do this. I talk to people about their computer problems. They are so frustrated. I ask, “Did you call tech support?” They answer, “Oh no, I could never do that.” I ask, “Why? They are there to help. You are likely paying their salaries.”
I could spend hours scratching around the web looking for answers. This is not as dumb as it sounds, but it is still pretty dumb. It is amazing what you can learn by Googling. There are answers to almost anything. I could likely Google around and find the answers, but it would take hours.
I could walk away. I could pick up the remote and watch a rerun of Law and Order. Using this method I would feel the least stupid. This is probably the most stupid approach.
If you want to learn almost anything you have to stand in the room and feel stupid until you don’t any more.
My daughter got a new phone recently. I was all excited. I love shiny new electronic things. I had to hold it in my hands. I tried to send a text. I couldn’t work out how. I felt stupid. I tossed it back at her and said, “I hate this phone.” “I hate this _______” is code for, “This device makes me feel stupid and I am not willing to keep mashing buttons until I don’t feel stupid any more.”
It took me a long time to get Facebook. I would get on and just didn’t get it. I would feel stupid. I didn’t like feeling stupid so I would go off and watch Law and Order. Then I wouldn’t feel stupid any more. But, I didn’t learn much about Facebook that way.
I didn’t need to read a book on Facebook. I didn’t need to take a class. I didn’t need any instructions at all. I just needed to click on stuff and feel stupid until I didn’t any more.
The key to learning anything is to be willing to feel stupid. Stay in the room. Stay on the webpage. Keep the device in your hand. Click stuff. Mash stuff. Poke stuff.
It is not likely you will break anything. Most things have a reset button if things get really out of hand. If you are working on something like your finances and a Quicken file as I was the other day, you might want to make a backup so you can get back to where you were before you started poking and mashing.
This is why kids learn so fast. We are all amazed at how fast kids are to learn technology. The reason is they are not afraid to break it. My son used to borrow my phone and change all the colors to the weird purple and oranges that I hated. Do you think he was worried about getting my phone to some place where I didn’t like to look at it and couldn’t get it back? I don’t think so. He learned a lot about how to change the settings on the phone that helped him to understand how to do the next one and the next and the next.