When I hear somebody say “I’m bad at technology, can you do this for me?,” it makes me cringe. I cringe, not because the person who is saying this is a bad person or has ill intentions, but because I don’t think they know the message they are actually sending.
When someone says “I’m bad at technology,” they may really be trying to say “I don’t understand computers” or “the internet isn’t my strong suit” or “I don’t adapt well to change” or “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, etc. To Generation Y and Z (essentially anybody under 30 years old), however, they are saying “I’m not good at life.”
How dare I say that, right?
I don’t mean that the person who is “bad at technology” isn’t a successful, well-liked, professional; I mean that to Generation Y and Z, the use of modern technology is so entrenched in everyday life that it is not considered a skill-set to be learned later in life – or something to be good or bad at (like chess). Due to the fact that the youngest two generations are digital natives, computer/internet literacy is not a new concept introduced in school: it’s learned from a very young age along with their mother tongue. Technology provides Generation Y and Z with an instant, and efficient, way to work, play, organize, express, share, learn, love, hate, and be entertained. So, the idea of “being bad at technology” represents more than just not knowing how to use computers. To these generations, being “bad at technology” means you are bad at almost every aspect of making your life work.
Don’t get me wrong, I remember the analog days (the end of them at least), but communication was a lot harder back then. It was harder to stay in touch with friends, harder to keep your loved-ones up-to-date on what’s going on in your life, and harder to organize a social gathering. In those days, I would have to get on the telephone, plan during face-to-face meetings, and rely on hand-written schedules to make sure things got done. Now, I can simply share a few sentences on my social media networks and accomplish all of these goals in a matter of seconds.
I know that the statement “If you say you are not good at technology you are telling everyone under 30 you are bad at life” is contentious, and it’s meant to be. I’ve used this statement in one-on-one conversations, group discussion sessions, casually in passing, and as an instructor at Algonquin College, and each time it starts an interesting debate about the role of technology in our lives. Some love it, some hate it, but after discussion, each side gains some insight.
Remember, technology moves fast – Check out this interesting video of youngsters trying to figure out the purpose of technologies invented in the last 30 years. Are they “bad at technology” too?