Computers for not-dummies

“I am probably the dumbest person with computers,” the woman said to me as she came into my weekly Tech Drop-ins session. In my line of work, it really isn’t surprising to hear this sentence, and it is remarkable how untrue it often is.  Technology is getting better so quickly these days that a lot of us are being overtaken. It feels like there is always some latest and greatest thing coming out despite the feeling as though we are being overun. We, as adults, learn what we can, keep up with our jobs and then, when we have to learn something new, it's a little like coming out from nuclear fallout shelter and realizing the whole world has moved on without you.

So, if you're reading this thinking that you are the dumbest person in the world with computers, chances are you aren’t. You are not dumb by any stretch of the imagination. If you've made it to adulthood, you've done difficult things before.  You’ve kept jobs. You’ve moved, and you’ve had to stay. You’ve built relationships, raised children, and built a life, so what does a computer have on you? All you have to do is start, and here’s how:

Take a tutoring session or class. I know your son programs computers for space satellites, and that is exactly the reason why he doesn't seem to be patient enough to teach you where the power button is on your computer. Teaching is different than knowing, so find yourself an instructor. Speak with a staff member or visit our online calendar for beginner's tech courses at your local Anythink. 

Get a light computer, because you’ll be bringing it in. When you’re starting out on your machine, get something you can physically move. As it is with many machines: it’s easier to be shown how something works than to be told.
Just like in your student days, consider a notebook. The more you write things down, the easier it will be to remember them.

Learn it for fun. In the end, computers are tools, not our masters. If you really can’t figure it out, there is no shame in picking up the phone and politely explaining your problem to a human being on the other end. However, if you want to find cool restaurant recommendations, buy movie tickets, order in take-out, cut your TV service or just talk to your kids, then the hard things you have to learn in order to get to that point will be worth it.

So, to all you who think you might be a computer "dummy," chances are you're not. Start learning today and you'll be on your way to making technology work for you.