Maurice’s Review: Oops, I had no idea I would cause so much tech stress for my dear friend Cheryl. Massive quantities of chocolate are in order to complement that glass of wine.
What would produce the most anxiety for you, resulting in uncomfortable bodily manifestations? Choose one from the following:
- The Russians have taken over the country.
- Hurricane Mayhem is predicted to come ripping directly through your neighborhood.
- You will be expected to perform multiple, intricate tasks on your computer.
- There is a severe chocolate shortage which will last well into next year.
- It looks as if your brain tumor is expanding.
Since I am good with foreign languages, have survived many hurricanes and don’t have a brain tumor, I would be tensing up over having to learn how to handle administrative tasks on my computer especially if there was a coinciding chocolate shortage. Thankfully, I only have to face one of those two stressors.
When I decided to write this blog, I knew zip regarding how to go about it. I needed a plan for training the monkeys (my areas of obstinate ineptitude within the internal circus) sufficiently to allow for this weekly event to take place with a minimum of havoc. I consulted with someone who has expertise in this area. Dawn is my go-to tech lady whenever something goes wonky. She installed the whole dealio for me way back in nostalgic-worthy 2019. Ever since I learned how to text people on my phone, I have used that skill to contact them for help with all sorts of dilemmas. WordPress sending me undecipherable notices—text Dawn. Wi-fi goes out—text AT&T. Computer acting up—text son so he can tell me to turn it off and then turn it back on, which almost always works! You may now be getting the impression that I am a complete nincompoop when it comes to high tech whatsamawhats and you would be right. But Dawn, to her credit, managed to guide me through the process of getting my blog set up and published each week so that I could reasonably be expected to sail this ship on my own through calm waters on a sunny day. It was a harrowing experience for both of us.
Having to learn how to perform technically advanced (pretty much everything) tasks on my computer sets off a series of stress-related phenomena through my nervous system directly into my physical body. Skin irritations, muscle tension, headaches, tummy woes and sleep deprivation all work their mystical magic as expressions of stress. Is it any wonder that I do my best to either avoid the necessary work or lay down the rules for being taught a task in a manner acceptable to me?
When I was asked if I could host the occasional event for my coffee Meetup group (aka Fika), I was happy and even eager to take on that task. The basic obligation of this chore is to show up early, greet arriving participants and chat with people at an event–place and time of my choosing. Me in my element. I agreed to bravely bear this burden. Of course, once one takes on responsibility, one has the appearance of being a responsible person, which is never a reasonable expectation, yet that is the perception. One might horrifyingly be deemed as able to step it up a notch and take on further tasks, which may or may not be within one’s capacity. Just such an incident occurred through my quasi-leadership volunteering with Fika. There is, if I choose to accept it, online management of my event. To be fair to our fearless Fika leader, this onerous task was not simply thrust upon me. There was an in-person training, with a group of other hosting volunteers, meant to enlighten us as to the secret inner workings of setting up a Fika event online. I went to it.
I felt this was probably a crap shoot as far as my own learning was concerned. But there were other, more technically savvy participants in this training meant to empower this group of socialites. I listened to the presentation very carefully. It all seemed so easy…at the time. I could not, an hour after it was over, even begin to try setting up a pretend event in order to practice the practical steps in setting up and maintaining a future event. In what I might call a delightful miracle (others might call it business as usual), it was revealed that someone took notes! I received these treasured instructions with all the pomp and festivity of finding the holy grail in my email inbox.
Written instructions for technical tasks, when composed step-by-step in language of the simplest variety (novice, first-grade reading level, English as a second language, one-syllable words) ease the stress significantly. There will be the occasional glitch when the icon I’m meant to click is not in the exact location stated in the written guidelines, but, after years of producing medical forms, job applications, copyright registrations, commercial establishment feedback, surveys, questionnaires and food orders, I’m gaining ground in remaining psychologically stable over minor bumps in the road toward online form completion. I give myself a choice when these dilemmas occur. Reach out for help from someone who knows these things, which may include Google (you can ask Google most anything these days and I have conquered how to type a question into that long space—I mean you can type such long questions into it and come up with all sorts of results, some of which cast you into an hour-long rabbit hole) or give up.
Very often, giving up is not the best (though most convenient) solution, especially if the task at hand absolutely must be accomplished. I often find myself asking for forgiveness, sometimes four times in one day, of the person I call for assistance in any particular onerous application. Finding the appropriate source of information is a skill unto itself. For instance, I won’t contact the dog groomer for help with getting an appointment for my flu shot at CVS, unless I know the dog groomer quite well and I’m sure she is well-informed in navigating the CVS website and likes receiving my business. Otherwise, I am as adept at aggravating the helpline personnel of various companies and government agencies as their websites are at aggravating me. It’s a vicious, first-world problem cycle.
I daydream about having a private secretary who can tackle these techie chores without bothering me with the details, but the truth is, I love learning new skills, even if in the process I need to throw a few things and have a grownup tantrum. Learning how to perform tasks on my computer is a slow but steady process. Besides, I can’t afford to pay a secretary to do these technical things for me.
I am grateful for all learning opportunities that come my way. I welcome a challenge, or at least don’t immediately chase it off with a machete. With dubious faith in my ever-increasing skill set, I will one evening sit down with a glass of wine and some meditation music, tame a few irksome monkeys, and learn, through doing, how to set up my Fika event online. The perfectionist within will have to be subdued by chanting “No harm will come of my mistakes during this process.” Also, there are like ten other people who were present at that training and I have every one of their phone numbers. Step One…buy chocolate. I’ve got this.
Guest Editor Maurice is really getting the hang of things around here. Not once did he mention my long and rambling sentences. I’m going to make him proud of my online form-filling skills or drive him crazy in the process. Also explain the monkeys up front.