A Short History of a Luddite

To say I am a luddite is not quite fair as I was the main man when it came to the setting our family video recorder in the 1980s.

Jon Yates 9th January 2019

A Short History of a Luddite

But having worked before the advent of the desktop computer and mobile phone I learned my trade in a certain way and in so doing developed certain habits. I communicated with different people in different ways, creating our own vocabulary and humour, sharing experiences, feelings and thoughts. No single person, let alone audience, being the same. This was true in private life as well as professional life.

Over the next 20 years those habits served me well and I was able to adapt them to new technologies which were for the most part designed to allow me to continue in those habits more efficiently. To give you an example the carbonated memo pad was replaced by e:mail; the library was replaced by the world wide web; the phone box was replaced by the mobile telephone. All of these advancements I accepted enthusiastically and used avidly. I have moved from vinyl to CD, from VCR to DVD; from Yahoo to Google, from analogue to DAB radio, I even had a digital watch (whatever happened to them?). None of these things attempted to fundamentally change the way I did things.

Then along came Social Media and I am at a loss. Many years ago, I attempted to use Facebook but could not really see why it was better than the methods I was using to communicate with family and friends. But it was SO popular, why didn’t I get it? So, I tried again, but found it just the same. This, rather than developing the syndrome that has come to be known as FOMO, caused me to simply retrench. That retrenchment has infiltrated my whole outlook on technology generally and social media in particular. I have developed a default setting of ‘if everyone else is doing it then I am not going to’. I started to resent the way my network provider would happily ‘upgrade’ my phone but in no way show me how the new one worked. As though that was not needed as all customers would already, instinctively, know what every swipe of the screen could do and where to find every function, connect to e:mail, pair with your car etc etc.

By the way I would have my Blackberry back tomorrow because it did everything I wanted it to do and I could bang out e:mail and text on that QWERTY keyboard quicker than I can on this touch screen iPhone I feel I was forced to have even today. The same iPhone which I was not shown how to use and on the very day I was given it could not find the torch function, resulting in a nasty Harry Potter like scratch across my forehead from overhanging brambles. Admittedly I was returning from my local pub at the time! But the people at Three assumed I would go and find out everything I needed to by searching on-line. Sorry, I would rather be reading a book or talking to my family.

So, I internally scream everyday “why do I have to have the app? Why can’t I get my Costa points at the self-service machines with my Costa card, why do I now have to have their bloody app?!!” Nobody has taken the trouble to explain to me why I need it. They seem to just assume that whatever it is I will want it. But my brain does not work this way. It needs to be sold to me to get my buy-in!

But no man is an island and the forces of change kept, and keep, coming. So now I am a Chief Executive of a Community Foundation and there is a need to engage with some form of Social Media in order to have a presence, otherwise, not just me, but the organisation I lead may be missing out. Oh God, the pressure! Ok I say, let’s have a go. Twitter seems like the safest bet as its only short posts about work related topics and who knows who might see them. But of course, that was the wrong approach. Liking and Retweeting simply won’t cut it. But still no one had explained to me what this thing is really all about, why it might be good for me and the Foundation, and how to get the best out of it. Until today that is. UKCF’s CEO Social Media session made me realise that I have been approaching this from the wrong end. This is about being Social, not about creating media. So, treat it as a party you have just arrived at and search for the conversations you would like to be involved in. Learn about the people you are talking to by asking questions and then if appropriate give your views freely and fairly. Ask them to introduce you to others and be yourself. Simple. Oh, and create a more meaningful Social Media strategy for the Foundation in which the team can all engage at a reasonable resource cost. Planning it like all other activity. Thank you UKCF and let the Tweets begin.

PS I am still not going anywhere near Facebook though.

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