How to Give the Gift of Technology to the Technophobe

Almost everyone knows someone who just doesn’t seem to want to take part in the technological revolution.  You sit back and enjoy the speed and convenience of modern technology while your friend or relative refuses to even get a cell phone.  You want to help, you want to make him see the light, but he stubbornly refuses.  You’re certain he is afraid of technology.

You really want to help bring this person into the modern age, but anything you try is met with a refusal to even try.  If you force the issue he might take whatever you are forcing on him, but it will get stuffed in a drawer or in the closet never again to see the light of day.  Is there any hope?

There may be some hope after all, but if you really want this to work, you are going to have to adjust your entire strategy, and you are going to have to work at it.  This will take patience and time, but it can be very rewarding in the end.  But be warned that you may actually learn something about avoiding technology that helps you as well.

The first thing you should do is to try to understand the person’s reasons for avoiding technology.  Usually the underlying motivation is fear, but fear can take many forms.  A fear of change is usually deeply associated with technophobia, but this is often accompanied by a fear of being wrong, or a fear of looking stupid.

To help alleviate some of the fear, don’t ever thrust technology at the technophobe.  Introduce technology slowly, and even then only when it helps make something easier for him.  Never try to introduce technology just for the sake of technology or because you think it’s cool. 

There are some things about technology that can get frustrating for even the most seasoned technologist, so keep that in mind when helping the technophobe use technology.  Have you ever had trouble with a computerized telephone system, or an automatic checkout?  Most people have, and you can use that experience to relate to the person you want to help. 

Which brings us to the most important part – you must try to do everything in your power to remove fear and discomfort from the learning process.  If he is uncomfortable, he will not have a pleasant experience and will not want to use this technology again.  And it is the fear that has kept him from it in the first place. 

A useful technique you can try is to make the unfamiliar technology do something familiar to help ease the transition.  This is not always possible, but it can help a great deal when you can use it.  An example of this would be in teaching someone how to use a PC, you might first teach them to play the solitaire game included with most computers.  If they are familiar with playing cards, and specifically the game of solitaire, they will quickly become accustomed to using the mouse – click and drag, double click, and so on, which will remove a lot of the fear of using the computer. 

One last thing – if you keep an open mind you may also learn from this experience.  For example, many technophobes accurately state that technology takes the personal relationships out of doing business.  By going into a bank rather than using the ATM, you will likely become more familiar to the tellers and officers at your bank.  If you find yourself in a situation where you are disputing an overdraft, or even if you simply need more information about something in your account, having this relationship can help you get things sorted out more quickly and easily.