Technology: a generation gap or fear of the unknown?

Fear of tech – can’t understand it meself 🙂

Zoe Easey is a web dev and co-founder of Epix Media. She discusses the fear of tech and whether it is a generational thing.

I have friends and work contacts that constantly profess “I don’t do tech” which scares me a little – how can you not ‘do tech’, you surely can’t avoid it these days? Are people really that fearful of it or is it just an excuse to avoid particular jobs or tasks?

It’s not necessarily an age thing either. In my career I’ve worked with people of all ages and it has  made me interested in whether there is really a generation gap with technology, or whether some people just ‘get it’ and some don’t.

A few years ago I was of the perspective that as the generation that grew up with PC’s and other tech in their homes got older, the gap between those that adopt and embrace tech and those that don’t would shrink. Now I’m not so sure.

I have customers reaching retirement that embrace technology: WordPress, social media and more, and whilst they admit to it taking them longer to learn they crack on and get to grips with it, fear-free. I know of people in their 50’s that can find new things on their iPad much more quickly than I can on mine! On the flip side, I know of people their early 20’s that don’t understand social media, or why people share so much on there, or why it’s important for their business to be part of the social conversation (especially if they are being talked about already). The latter particularly surprises me as things like Facebook are highly likely to have been a much bigger part of their social life as they grew up.

Recently I was introduced to the concept of “micro generations” in technology, whereby tech is moving so fast that the gap in knowledge and what’s ‘cool’ can be massive between people of similar ages. Where tech is concerned the term ‘generation’ doesn’t mean 30 years, it can be as little as the iPhone5 and the iPhone6 being released. There are probably also micro knowledge gaps between tech adopters as we all use it in different ways. Whilst one person may be an expert in one area, or in the use of a particular phone or app, another person may not have ever interacted with them. The important thing here is that the adopters will have the right mind-set to learn if they need to, where as the “I don’t doers’ might not.

I guess there are other factors that impact the tech adoption gap too, such as location and environment. People in areas with poor internet connectivity or from more remote areas may not be pushed as far into the world as technology as those in environments that have the first access to 4G, superfast broadband and other tech related schemes. Just because someone was born in an era where tech is prevalent, it doesn’t mean it will be a key factor in their life. In some cases they will be aware of technology, but not understand its purpose or significance.

I understand that some people don’t feel technology is important to them and part of that may be because it’s still fairly new in the grand scheme of things. But it has moved faster than anything we’ve seen before and I wonder what will happen if people continue to shy away from the basic tools that are ingrained in many people’s lives. Where businesses are concerned their competitors will become more efficient and leaner than they are and they will miss out on tech that can help put systems and processes in place to improve in so many areas. From a non-business perspective technology if nothing else is heaps of fun and makes things much easier. We’ve been a convenience culture for some time now, and tech just helps us be lazier in the tasks we don’t enjoy and get things done quicker – who wouldn’t want that!

Embracing technology isn’t difficult when approached with the right mind-set. It doesn’t mean you have to go and shove all data you own in the cloud, or that it has to cost your business thousands of pounds – but just having a common sense approach can make your business and life more efficient.

I don’t think you need to be a programmer to understand tech, my interactions with people and those that have surprised me over the years is testimony to that. The “I don’t do-ers” just need to push the fear aside and grab themselves a handful of confidence. As long as they don’t give their bank account details to a Siberian prince and are smart about what they post online, they’re unlikely to hit any major snags.

So, encourage your friends and family to not be afraid, tech doesn’t have to be complicated or scary. And when they say “I don’t do tech” tell them “tough, it ain’t going anywhere!”.

Zoe started Epix Media in 2010 and has over 8 years’ experience as programmer and graphic designer. During the last 5 years she has focused on growing the business with her co-director, ensuring they stay on top of the latest tech. This along with great customer service means Zoe is well on the way to proving you can be successful AND nice in business!

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