When I was a retainer for a law firm I took the opportunity to thoroughly study the technophobes in residence there. Because they were usually the older ones, as is the stereotype, it occurred to me that the reason they were against the learning and even the implementation of technology was, among many reasons, it made them feel antiquated.
I realized after wrestling with the idea that the reason they weren’t open to it was that they attributed new technology with the new associates, and hence they did not like how this lack of understanding of the new seemingly gave the newer kids the upper hand. And we’re not talking high tech here. Just PCs and the Internet. Little did they know of course that many of these newer kids were just as clueless as they were, but as far as they were concerned of course they were the dinosaurs.
I mentioned there were other reasons but these were the ones I would call typical. Such as for one, the way technology makes you feel dumb in general, especially when someone adept is using it and you feel like you have the lowest IQ in the room. Another more common to professionals such as them I think, is the fact that tech bit into the system of how they liked to work. Being very busy they are understandably averse to anything they need to learn or re-learn considering how they got things done previous to that already worked well.
Whatever the case may be my comprehension of the situation allowed me to be patient and henceforth non judgmental, a trait which I felt to be my strongest. I treated anyone I was teaching the same way and never adopted a tone that made them feel like they were being talked down to. I explained things, such as email and using a browser for instance, as simply as possible and relative to how they did their jobs with the intent of them adapting it and moving forward themselves. Something I was confident they would because after all, why wouldn’t a naturally inquisitive and intelligent person such as a lawyer find the internet interesting?
Recently however I’ve come across a different animal and this one frustrates me. At meetings with a client it dawned on me that the guy a.) has not read my emails and b.) has not even looked at the website I made for them, a website that they have paid well for and have quite grand plans with.
The man speaks reasonably well and looks capable enough, and even carries an iPad around with him wherever he goes. I probably roll my eyes a little bit when he laughingly says he ‘doesn’t open his email’, after which his standard excuse is his age (he is above 60), and that he ‘leaves technology to the younger ones’.
That reasoning just makes me want to puke because how in hell does he expect to perform his executive duties let alone get a website project done if he doesn’t even check his email? Checking email is not a ‘techy thing’ reserved for Unix geeks. It’s something you do. To get most things done.
After a while I started to analyze this guy again similar to the way I studied the lawyers, and realized the worst. The guy doesn’t check his email, doesn’t get online and whatever he does in relation is the absolute minimum input because he just doesn’t care for the job he does. And we’ve shot the breeze often enough that he tells me this outright. He doesn’t like his boss, he doesn’t like his job, he doesn’t like how his wife complains how he hogs their driver too often (again because he has to go to his job), and he constantly talks of how he’d rather spend his time doing anything but his job.
This is all alright with me of course despite of the fact this is information I am not able to make any use of (I think I told him that outright, because I was just sick of his bellyaching), except for the fact that in the six months I have carried out my service contract he is still there.
He is still there, at the job he hates and constantly complains about, not checking his email and not checking the website they paid me to make. It’s akin in my mind, to hiring a contractor to make your house, then not read his messages and never going to the job site to inspect it. Not even once. He even looks away when I show it to him on my laptop. I sit in front of him trying to explain something I did all the while struggling with the thought ‘what is wrong with this guy?’
I’m sure many who read up to this point would say to me that hey, I got paid, so just shut the f up right? I suppose the reason I’m still talking about it is that I couldn’t help getting impressed with the lofty goals of the site and their company and would have wanted it to become a success, and therefore become part of the success. And also mostly I’m just disgusted with that kind of technophobe. I believe in technology and all the wonders it can provide. I had thought it was wondrous enough to amaze even the stodgiest of souls. But today however I can name someone who is far beyond what tech can offer to him. What he needs is to stop being a spineless idiot.