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Yes, We Can

Essays, general essay

Last December, right when I most needed my site to be up on the off chance someone would want to buy one of my books, I did an update on my site and it broke. Badly.

I could have had it up and running again in less than an hour, but I chose to do a little research and try and find a better, more current, theme, along with some other improvements. Still, the site crashed around four p.m., and I was back up and running by nine that night.

If I were paying a web designer to do all this for me, my site would have been broken for at least two or three days, and not because of incompetence or disinterest on the designer’s part. What caused the break was an update that clashed with the site’s theme – the part that provides the overall look of a site. Given that designers will customize the same theme over and over to save time, you can bet that any designer I was paying would have been dealing with several broken sites and there would be no guarantee that mine would be back to normal as fast as I would want it. But because I know how to do the basics on my site, I was good, even though my site still needs some work.

I bring this up because of something that has been gnawing at me the past few months. Okay, maybe years. It just seems that the basic response of various people when confronted with something different, especially if it involves technology, is “Oh, I can’t” Or “I don’t get technology.” Or a dozen other variations on the theme.

Okay, I get that wrapping your brain around the concept of some new gadget or editing system might not come as naturally to you as it does to me. A lot of times, it doesn’t come that naturally to me, either. I get that you may not want to put the time in to learn a new technique or way of doing things on your website or social media. Lord knows I don’t particularly want to learn accounting.

That doesn’t mean I don’t need to know how to do basic accounting to run my book business. So, I learned how to do it and am still learning, since now I have an inventory.

I learned how to use WordPress and a lot of other tech because I needed to learn it or not have my business. That I found I was fairly decent at the tech stuff was only a plus. It was not something that I started out being interested in. And there are things that I still struggle with.

The difference is that I don’t worry about what I can’t do. I just research and learn it, if I have to. The chickens in the backyard? I have zero interest. Zip. I hate those biddies. However, my husband loves having them, so we do, and he gets to take care of them. When he can’t because he has to go out of town or is sick, I don’t say I could never do that. I just get out there and feed and water the little pests.

There are some things that I will probably never learn to do. Some of that is the exceedingly steep learning curve. You know, things like brain surgery. Some of it is a lack of interest, like advanced origami. But, especially in the case of the latter, I would never complain that I couldn’t do advanced origami. I simply don’t want to and that is not only understandable but acceptable.

And I can understand when someone complains that they can’t do something really complex, such as write code. On the other hand, sharing a Google doc and installing a WordPress theme are pretty simple and not much more complex than setting up your Facebook profile. Most people I know can do that. Most people I know do know how to use email, know how to write in Word. They simply seem to balk at anything they don’t already know, and that drives me nuts.

If they’d only say that they don’t want to learn this stuff, fine. I get that complaint. Sometimes, you have just have to grit your teeth and learn it, anyway, like my husband learned how to use a password safe. Or I’m having to learn Linux (long story). Sometimes, you can let it go because your kid will always be around to fix your website at the drop of a hat.

But whining that you can’t just because something different throws you for a loop? Come on, already! You probably can learn this stuff. You just haven’t tried. You may not learn everything there is to know. You probably won’t end up a code geek. But you can maintain your own website, install a theme if an update breaks your current one, and make the necessary changes when you have something to add. You can learn how to share documents with a group. You might even discover why so many folks consider this a basic necessity of working with other people.

So what if it takes a little longer to understand how something works? So what if you need to keep a list of steps to take? Do what you need to do. Just, please, please, please, don’t complain that you don’t get something! If you need to use something because the rest of your planning team uses it, then find a way to learn how. If you don’t need to, then don’t. Just own it that you don’t want to learn it and let it go.

Okay? Okay. End of rant.

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