I launched Office Hours in January of 2016 with the intention of creating a community. It was a place to explore new technologies and, more importantly, discuss career issues in, what I had hoped would be, a safe environment for my baby boomer tribe.
What I learned was not pretty, but it was what I expected.
Let’s get started with the first of many lessons.
Twitter ID Required
Blab (or Blab.im) uses Twitter to authenticate its users. By authenticating your identity, Blab knows you are a real person. I almost immediately started getting complaints from users stating that they did not have a Twitter ID, nor did they want to get one. To these folks, it was irrelevant that they didn’t need to use Twitter, but they still did not want to bother with a Twitter ID.
In the next few weeks, I will be writing a post about the book, The Reputation Economy: How to Optimize Your Digital Footprint in a World Where Your Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset by Michael Fertik and David C. Thompson. You will be judged based on how well you use social media just like you are judged based on your FICO score.
I was really surprised by the level resistance to getting a Twitter login, which was considerable.
During the first session, users had a hard time signing in. Most of the time, this was due to obsolete hardware and/or software.
The reason for this came in two forms:
- Users did not feel the need for their home computers to be up to date. By the way, last year Dell sold billions of dollars of new computers because Microsoft dropped support for Windows XP. Small business and government offices were forced to buy a lot of new computers. To run video, you need a system that is no more than a couple of years old and has a fairly recent version of the operating system. I am partly guilty of this same thing. I have a 5 year old MacBook Pro. I’ve added extra memory—a lot of it—which allows the computer to sing like new. I have the very latest version of the Mac OS, but it’s still showing it’s age. After replacing the keyboard this week, the next step will be to buy a new computer.
- Users said they could not afford to buy the latest and greatest technology. They had better things to spend their money on…like paying the mortgage. I have seen this over and over in the Job Club where I volunteer. To them, getting a smartphone is a more important technology purchase than upgrading a computer.
Solving Technology Problems
Technology is part of everything we touch. I was watching a commercial about a husband who called his wife to see whether to buy some eggs while he was at the grocery store. She told him she was busy, but she was right next to the refrigerator. He pulled up a video on his smartphone of the inside of the refrigerator and could see there were plenty of eggs.
I attended the FlexJobs webinar called Webinar: Flexible Jobs at 3 Great Companies: Sitel, Appen, and Canonical where several of the company representatives stated that, in order to be hired, you need to be self-sufficient with technology and be able to troubleshoot simple problems.
During Office Hours, we had people with microphone, networking, and simple camera problems that they were unable to diagnose. We did our best to help them, but…
As we move to a mobile and freelance economy, we need to be able to diagnose relatively simple technology problems from our homes. Our experience was not with one or two people, but with dozens who were unable to troubleshoot their issues.
I have a good friend named Janice Friesen who has built a business called, “I’m Not a Geek.com.” She serves the technologically deficient in Austin. I wish there were more people like her! She is amazingly patient when helping her clientele.
Be On Video?
One of the other lessons learned was one I already suspected. Many baby boomers do not want to be on video! My last corporate gig was developing curriculum and certification for a high definition video conferencing company.
What I learned was that, as soon as women, primarily over 50 years of age, saw themselves on camera, they would move off camera. I learned a lot about how we behave when we see ourselves on camera, and it is often not very flattering.
At the beginning, many of the attendees would stalk each session but not join in. Eventually, Blab no longer allowed this, so people stopped attending. Although people did not have to come on camera, even the possibility of doing so scared many away.
What do these lessons tell us about ourselves?
When I explored the past six months, my initial reaction was that many of the stereotypes of boomers are correct.
- We are stuck in our ways
- We are not technologically up to date
I know this does not apply to all baby boomers, but it doesn’t paint a very pretty picture.
Are my conclusions wrong? Comment below and let me know what you think.
I am still running our Career Pivot Office Hours survey. I would be honored if you would take the survey since we are working on figuring out what we should next do.
Office Hours did not meet our community’s needs. Monday evening, June 27th, will be the last Office Hours for the summer. We will return after Labor Day weekend, but probably in a different format. I will likely convert this to a podcast.
Please take the survey and let us know what you think!Marc Miller
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