There’s lots of predictions “zooming” around these day as to how the world is going to look post COVID-19. Many, for instance, are celebrating the fact that thousands have now broken the technology barrier and embraced all manner of digital connecting, including the ubiquitous ZOOM call. (Some of us even wonder if too many have embraced Zoom?)
For me, I’m celebrating a different kind of curve flattening—the end of technology shame.
Pre-COVID-19, there were two types of technology users. The younger group always appeared totally comfortable with a tablet or phone in their hands or attached to their face. Born into a digital age, these savvy Instagramers and Tick Tockers were never frazzled by a bad connection or a “HTTP Error 503” message.
The other group—okay, the “older adult category”—were constantly apologizing when they couldn’t get technology to work . During the course of the average day, comments that ranged from “I was never good at math” (???) to “Bill Gates is sabotaging me again”. There was no helping them; confidence to go forward and tweak or click or post was at best, shaky.
The good news? The technology curve has now been flattened. With everyone equally forced to rely on technology over the past couple of months, there’s been a huge forgiveness factor for all things tech-dysfunctional.
I’ve meet on WebEx with technology-savvy engineers that couldn’t stop their screens from freezing. We’ve all watched those YouTube videos about toddlers walking in front of monitors in the middle of a meeting with the CEO, or a cat stopping to clean itself while standing on the keyboard. We’ve seen up people’s nostrils and down their cleavages, and only after a meeting was over realized that our laundry was piled in the background.
The same applies when the rich and famous have entertained us from their fancy homes. We’ve learned that sound quality doesn’t have to be perfect when the thought is sincere, and sometimes even Elton John has to make do with a child-size keyboard. “I don’t normally play a keyboard like this.” he said jokingly before busting out in a performance of his 1974 hit ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ in the middle of his lounge. (He dedicated his performance to “the incredible heroes” on the front lines of the pandemic.)
The result is all the same—a great humbling has taken place. Technology is no long the enemy, and that’s not all of it. We’ve all been embarrassed-proofed. It’s no longer a career limiting error if you don’t look perfect on screen, or when your colleagues or fans find out that you don’t come from a Martha Stewart-worthy home. Singing is great even when it isn’t perfect; yes, a lot of women have roots and aren’t blond; and—ack—more men than we’d feared need a daily trimming. Best of all, when technology doesn’t work, it’s not our fault, or the fault of our “old equipment” (i.e. last year’s), or the cement wall that’s blocking our internet connection.
Whew. At a time when anxiety is high, it really is all quite a relief.