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Is technology making you feel dumb?

I wanted to take a four-minute clip from a video interview. It should have been easy. But somehow nothing that involves new software or new technology ends up being that easy. There’s always some question I can’t answer – which is why I often feel frustrated – or dumb. And with all the software and productivity tools I’m using, I have those feelings a lot these days!

on a cork notice board

My work today should have been easy.

I wanted to take a four-minute clip from the video interview Kerri Lowe of Story Shelter did with me and feature it on this blog.

Only it didn’t go as planned. Last month I took a “How to use I-movie” course on-line ( and edited my first video. (Yeah me!) But today as I edit using the software, I hit a problem and despite my rapid-fire google searches, I can’t find the answers I need.

Maybe the solution is to use a more robust video editing software like Adobe’s Premier Elements. I bought it for a Digital Storytelling class last year – and have been meaning to learn it – so today’s the day. I dial up Lynda-com and choose a “Getting Started with Premier Elements” class.

As the training video starts, I notice that my Saturday is disappearing fast and the blue fall sky outside is stunningly beautiful.

If I had an IT staff or a teenager at home, this would be easy.

 But today I’m feeling dumb. Because I’m stuck with THE QUESTION I CANNOT ANSWER.

This has been happening a lot these days – feeling stuck with questions that even the experts (or expert want-to-be’s) who hang out in every corner of the Internet – can’t seem to answer. These are not tough questions:

  • Why isn’t the volume key on my new keyboard working?
  • Why is my computer so slow to boot up?
  • Why isn’t my email sync-ing across my devices even though I’ve done everything I’m supposed to?
  • And why the hell did the last five months of my Quickbooks entries mysteriously disappear between sessions?

I love having access to the productivity and social media tools that allow me to work independently, effectively. Yet they each come with a learning curve.

Last year, I tried to learn (beginner’s versions) WordPress, MailChimp, Hootsuite, Evernote, Skype, Gmail, WiseStamp, Google Apps for business, Insightly, Imovie, among others, while learning to blog, and use Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. (If you don’t recognize the names, be happy that you don’t need to know.)

Each new learning opens the door to the possibility of frustration– and the likelihood of encountering ANOTHER FRIGGIN QUESTION I CAN’T ANSWER.

 I remember how my Mother would call me, hysterical, from her retirement center. I’d hear her shaky voice and prepare to call 9-1-1 before asking, “Mom, what’s wrong?”
 “I’m so frustrated! I can’t get my e-mail to work,” she’d moan.

I ‘d want to laugh. “I’ll show you in person, Mom – next trip,” I’d say, relieved. I’m glad I’d didn’t laugh, because these days I recognize those desperate feelings in myself – when I need to be able to DO something on the computer and it’s just not working.

Maybe in the future I’ll delegate stuff out. But today, I want to understand how to use the tools that are key to my business. So I keep learning.

Until I crash.

 How do you deal with technology overload?

Maybe the first step to recovery is to acknowledge the problem: that the level of (often great) resources available to me as a solo entrepreneur exceeds my ability to understand and use them. (I wasn’t born with a Gameboy in my crib.)

W. Edwards Deming, the statistician and management consultant whose pioneering work in Japan led to the quality movement, used to chastise executives for pushing or punishing employees for what were the failings of their business systems. (“A bad system will beat a good person every time.”)

Sometimes, working “more, faster, smarter” just won’t cut it.

Sometimes, I need to acknowledge there’s a limit to what I can do. Perhaps I can’t speed-learn Premier Elements in 30 minutes.

That’s why today, while the sun is still out, I’m going back out to the garden. The interview clip can wait.





3 Responses

  1. You hit the nail on the head again Sally! Truly there are times when working digitally or analog when it’s just not working and we should say uncle and go cut in the garden! Can’t wait to see Annie’s work in your new e-book (along with your wisdom!)

  2. Technology ( computers, internet, blogs, coupons, intelligence invasion, advice, too much news)is a very difficult aspect of my life that I limit as much as possible.
    I am not a sophisticated technology person but this does not cause me to feel stupid or dumb,and I refuse to allow all of the flashing ads and sensational low IQ news reporting to damage mywonderful experience and learning with my own thoughts!

    However, I am reading a lovely book for technophobes titled “IS THIS THING ON?” by Abby Stokes.(2 B Recommended!!!) Because we must prepare ourselves to deal with the world. I also do not watch television. But I enjoy all of the public radio stations!

  3. I just wanted to say that I understand the sentiment here. My parents face it daily, and I find myself starting to at age 39!

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