If you’ve been hesitant to connect and learn online, now is a great time to start.
When last spring’s stay-at-home orders curtailed face-to-face meetings, many of us finally made the jump over a few small technology hurdles to connect with people and resources online. Unable to attend events, we learned how to visit the great museums of the world, attend lectures, and listen to musicians offer house concerts, all from the comfort of a favorite chair. We attended webinars, took courses, and downloaded a slew of books without leaving home.
If you’ve been reluctant to make the leap, you may be lacking a reason big enough to warrant the potential hassle of using Zoom (online meeting software) or downloading a library book. Fortunately, there’s help.
Find your big reason
Forced to stay at home during the pandemic, I kept uncovering reasons to connect online: events, concerts, webinars, classes, and virtual meetings over coffee with friends.
The Zoom-based wedding I attended celebrated a couple sharing their love in difficult times. Four hundred guests from around the world posted “Mazel Tov” and “Congratulations!” in the “chat box” throughout the event. Being online didn’t diminish the tears and laughter visible onscreen. When a friend couldn’t fly to her beloved grandmother’s funeral, she created an online memorial service and invited friends from miles away to join her. When my granddaughter missed marching down the aisle for her high school graduation, her family made up for it with an online celebration that included family on both coasts of the country.
Once you have a big reason to use the technology, like seeing your grandchild, a wide array of resources is ready to help you connect.
Tap the resources
Not sure where to start? Ask your neighbor for assistance or call your local library’s help desk. In the Seattle area, the King County Public Library’s help desk can help you launch Zoom, download an e-book, or refer you to technical help within the library system. If you’re already online, you’ll find virtual technology support classes (try Seniorplanet.org.) Your local senior center may offer support for technology-shy seniors. You can hire a tech consultant who specializes in seniors or, if you’re lucky, find a “digital native” like your grandchild.
Be prepared for glitches
Frustration is natural when things go wrong. For example, you can’t dial in for an important event. You lose your password. Your screen freezes. The instructions you have were written by aliens. Don’t melt. We’ve all been there! Remember, it’s just technology. Take a breath and know that with a little help you’ll solve the problem, if not today, tomorrow. These glitches are a small entrance fee to a world of almost infinite resources.
Enjoy and explore
Once we uncover treasures online, we have a reason to keep exploring. Besides, learning, even if frustrating, is great for our brains. When I saw the beaming smile on my granddaughter’s face, I had all the incentive I needed to ask, “How can I connect next?”
Sally Fox, owner of Engaging Presence, is a coach and writer who helps individuals develop and craft compelling stories. She writes about following your creative calling after midlife. Find her blog at www.engagingpresence.com and listen to her podcasts at www.3rdActMagazine.com.