It’s hard to feel effective these days. Though humans are hardwired to seek effectiveness, the deck is stacked against us right now. And the number of ways to be stupid (or “ignorant” if you want to be precise) is growing exponentially.
We all get caught in the vortex of being stupid ourselves–often. This is not because we are “older.” It is because technology is moving so fast that nothing stays the same long enough to grasp it and relax. Every time there’s an upgrade to tech you’re already using, you have to learn it all over again. Every time you invest in a new piece of technology—wonderful as they all are, you start as a beginner one more time.
So we “dance with stupid” a whole lot more than we used to. Once we master what they “improved” yesterday, and there’s something else tomorrow to make you feel inept all over again. In addition, learning it involves using new tools—online tutorials instead of salespeople doing demonstrations; initiating a “help ticket” via a website instead of calling tech support. The pace never abates, the learning tools keep changing, and a resulting sense of being completely incompetent is easy to come by. So we take a double hit to our effectiveness and self-esteem: We fumble with the technology, and we don’t get as much done.
Then there is the rest of the world…or at least the world as citizens of the United States are now experiencing it. We are swimming in ineffectiveness as a nation. Congress can’t get anything done. The White House has a higher staff turnover rate than a fast food restaurant. And our car manufacturers, banks, and social media moguls are clueless about what is and isn’t safe and in the country’s best interest. (I refuse to attribute all this to greed. If you really want to make a lot of money, you do right by the customer.) When we are exposed to “stupid” so often, it’s demoralizing. Can anybody get it right? We currently have a President who relies on what he hears from Fox News pundits to decide policy. He’s our President—and thus we are part of that performance. Another big hit to our self-esteem.
Dropping out is not the answer. That just means you’ve disengaged, and engagement is another essential component of a good life. Each of us has to find our own way through this forest. It IS doable. Some questions to consider in finding the way:
- What do I gain from learning this new (or improved) technology? Is it worth my effort to learn it?
- Will learning how to use the newer information sources (online manuals, help tickets, etc.) benefit me enough to make the effort? (Oh yeah…)
- What are my priorities with the time I allot to learning and using technology?
- What are the good things I get out of “being a beginner”?
- Have I tried the easy stuff? (Turning “it” off, waiting a few minutes, and turning it back on actually does solve the problem fairly often.)
- Am I getting balanced information as news? How can I evaluate my news sources?
- Is what I am reading as news from the outfit that did the research? (The internet is worse at distorting information as it gets passed along than that game of telephone we played as kids.)
- Does it pass the sniff test? (The “photo” of one of the kids leading the March for Our Lives movement tearing up the Constitution? Oh, come on!)
- And if you love your news commentator because of her/his style and how well s/he puts things, beware. That’s entertainment and/or persuasion NOT news reporting.
A big piece of feeling competent in an incompetent world is realizing what we are up against. We’re drinking from a fire hose right now. So many things beyond our control are making us feel inept. It’s gonna be messy and ineffective for a while. But that doesn’t mean we have to be. Or to believe we are. Choose your battles and carry on. Choose and act. You DO know what you’re doing. Go do it.
Mary Lloyd is a writer and retirement coach. She is still working on updating her website www.mining-silver.com . She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about her books, check out her Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Lloyd/e/B001KECHEW.