Conquering Technophobia


Does your VCR blink? Do you use only one feature on your camera because trying to figure out how to use the others drives you crazy? Do waves of anxiety wash over you just thinking about buying another appliance? Then you are suffering from Technophobia. No, you won’t need a psychiatrist to cure you, and yes, the good news is that it is “curable.”


Technophobia, the fear of technology, is part of living in an age when almost everything we encounter is embedded with technology. Everyone, even “geek” types, experience some anxiety when dealing with technology that is challenging, unfamiliar, or just plain contrary. For most of us it’s an attitude that’s been learned through many unsuccessful experiences in trying to decipher buttons, understanding poorly written manuals, and features that are not intuitive to use.


And it’s not just about fearing recreational gadgets. In your work world, you have to deal with complicated phone systems, Xerox machines that look like a console for launching a space shuttle, fax machines that are mini computers, and printers so complicated to install and use that you start crying for that simple old fashioned typewriter!


So how do you go beyond the blinking VCR or the panic you feel when encountering new technology? You start with the familiar, with an appliance you own. You practice mastering it and as you discover you can, your self confidence and courage to tackle new ones will grow.


Be aware that this is a learning process. It will take time for you not only to learn how to use technology, but to change your attitude from one of fear to one of confidence. Start simply, choosing one of your appliances that isn’t overly complicated (that blinking VCR would be a good start). Read the manual. Take a deep breath. Repeat to yourself  “It is just an appliance, I CAN learn how to use it!” Familiarize yourself with all the buttons – manuals usually have diagrams explaining each button. Next locate the buttons. Then try to make the appliance do what the manual says it should.


Remember you can’t “break” anything.  You will not destroy your appliance! If you are still having problems, seek help from a friend or coworker who owns something similar. When it comes to phobias, it’s always good to have a buddy to see you through the worse. If you don’t know anyone who can help, hire someone. That kid next door might oblige for the price of a CD or a trip to McDonalds.


As a last resort, hire a professional. If you’re making no progress, you need assistance from a pro who can show you how to get over the hurdles. You might have to spend a few dollars, but the results in self-esteem after you realize you can master the technological monster is priceless!


The next step is to get your feet really wet. Buy something new. Just stay away from mail order. You’re not yet ready to fly solo! Before you take it home ask the sales person to show you how the model works. High end electronics have very cooperative sales people. Even other items, like washing machines and portable CD players, usually have floor models for demonstrations. After you unpack it, recall the demonstration and fearlessly explore it yourself. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make it work!


As you go from mastering items you own, to new ones just purchased, to finally something as complicated as maybe a digital camera, you will discover your technophobia vanishing. However, if you can’t seem to get the hang of it, if you still get a panic attack just thinking about dealing with technology, then stay simple. Don’t beat up on yourself. Buy things that have the least buttons and features. Just as not everyone can master downhill skiing, not everyone is cut out to be a technonerd!



                                                                  © 2008 Leona M Seufert