Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Only Thing To Fear...

I mentioned yesterday that the willingness to dive into unknown problems with enthusiasm could be a valuable asset to any cell phone owner, and that I thought that it was worth expounding on in another post. Rather than let this idea die on the vine, or languish in the annals of my "Drafts" pile, I thought I'd talk about it while still fresh in my mind.

I have helped many people become acquainted with their phones. I have seen hundreds of customers running the gamut from young teenagers with their first cell phones (side note, I was 14 when I got my first, flimsy little candybar phone, and years later, I sold a 9 year old girl a touchscreen blackberry... technological progress is weird), to businesspeople, to octogenarians.

The interesting thing about this wide range of people is that, contrary to what you might expect, younger people do not always grasp technology faster. While it is true that teens tend to desire the latest and greatest technologies, even this is not universally true. I have met many a teen who not only prefer simple flip or candybar style handsets, but even refuse to acknowledge any usefulness in even the most basic of smartphones. On the other hand, I've seen 70-something year-old couples bicker to each other how each has chosen the better smartphone. For the record, if you and your chosen mate disagree on the iPhone vs. Android debate, 46 years of marriage won't fix it.

The only common denominator that I can see in those who will be most successful with their new smartphones, is that they all lack the fear of failure. They dive, head first, into their new devices with reckless abandon, unafraid of the repercussions of a particular app install, changed setting, or customisation.

Contrast this with those who fear their phones from the start, unwilling to touch a single option, or change anything from the stock system they start with. It's no wonder that these people need to be walked, hand-in-hand, through every new feature before they will be willing to try it out on their own. It's no wonder, but it's also no easy feat.

The real secret to learning how to use your smartphone is to be the former, brave owner and commander of your new phone. Take control, explore it as if it were the new world, and you were Magellan. Just don't die along the way, the metaphor isn't perfect. In any event, the worst that can possibly happen is that your phone might start to get a bit slow. You might not like some of the changes you've made, or find that you can no longer easily find things you once could, But there is hope! Between people like me, here to help make sense of your misguided choices, and the cell phone's natural ability to, at the touch of a button, revert to it's original state, there is no mistake you could make that cannot be undone.

Everything you can do on your phone is reversible, usually without any loss of data. I recommend to every customer I train, "Take this phone. Try to break it. If you can, I'll fix it, and you'll know not to do quite what you did there again."

Just to clarify, "Try to break it." has nothing to do with physical damage, just the settings on the phone. People like me exist so that when your phone inexplicably stops ringing, and you can't figure out how you did it, I can set it right, and show you how it happened.

Everything is fixable, and if you're not afraid to break it, you will learn your phone better, and faster, and you'll have far more fun with it along the way. Don't fear your phone, it's only a tool, and it's your tool, not the other way around. Make it yours. You won't regret it.