When I first started University in Sydney I was using still using books and writing down notes by-hand and attempting to record lectures verbatim. At the time I was the only person I knew doing this, as other people used their laptops to record notes on programs like ‘One-Note’
Fast forward and from age 20 to 25 I still didn’t own a laptop. I had a $250 Acer Chromebook for a few months which broke when it suddenly stopped working. So for 5 years I used only my phone to check emails, view social media, check the news, make calls; literally everything I did on my phone. I didn’t have a Spotify plan, a Netflix plan or any other subscription service to even watch or stream movies or music. I didn’t feel the need to have anything but a phone.
This greatly impacted my digital literacy and I didn’t know it yet, but I was growing further and further behind the ever-changing landscape of technology. This gap would create difficulties for me down the line, and if left un-addressed would have impacted my education.
Throughout that 5 years, I still had a Canon 70D which I travelled with. This was able to blue-tooth photos onto my phone, and I was content to take photos travelling with the camera and then have them saved on my phone. Simple enough, what more could I need?
The reality that I was so far behind technologically was hidden by the fact I could still post on social media.
I was also someone who was averse to technology and a troglodyte. Every time I used someone’s laptop for something I would become so quickly frustrated at my lack of skills that I would avoid using it altogether. That is not a good way to approach problems. I now realise if I am no good at something, that I need to put-the-work-in to improve.
But, I realised how far-behind my digital skills were when one-day while staying at a friend’s house they asked me to change the volume on the laptop as we were watching a movie. I couldn’t do it. I was never a MAC owner but I had literally no idea how to even toggle to the menu and change the volume. We both thought it was kind of funny, but I had a moment were I actually thought ‘oh wow, I was more educated with technology when I was a teenager’.
This is just one minor task in a list of hundreds of ‘soft skills’ which I couldn’t do on a laptop. I literally had no idea how to do anything but open a web browser or a word document.
At this point in time I had been living and working in seasonal jobs, travelling around the world and felt like I had no need of a computer.
My jobs were usually hands-on jobs that you could do without much skill or prior knowledge but paid well. I finally broke after spending 3 months living and working out of my Van in British Columbia and I realised that I had not done anything technical with technology since I was 20. So when I left the Tree-Planting contract and just after my 25th birthday I decided to buy a second-hand 2014 MacBook Air.
I am still using that same Mac right now.
Initially I found it hard to adapt to a Mac, as the layout was completely different. But in the space of 1.5 years I was able to bring my digital literacy up-to-speed. When I enrolled in college a few months later I was using programs I hadn’t used since high-school like Excel, Spreadsheet and new programs like Google Office, Skype, Zoom and Project Management software.
It sounds ridiculous but without the knowledge of how to use those programs, my initial few months going back to college were very difficult. For that reason I strongly encourage everyone to maintain their digital skills as best they can, and I now believe firmly in the capabilities of bringing digital skills to developing countries as a just one way to better their chances of breaking out of poverty. Digital skills are useful the world over.
Now I am able to use more complex project management programs, monitor my blog online with analytics and I have a better understanding of concepts like SEO or even just how to navigate a Mac. All of this I value.
I support anyone looking to further their digital literacy skills and encourage you not to be put-off with the frustration of trying to work on a computer. Trust me, ive been there.
If you want to increase your digital literacy skills I suggest trying some of the Google Certificate programs.
Or alternatively, Udemy and Coursera offer online courses to people seeking to up-skill in a range of areas:
I hope this blog helped just one person.
Want to keep reading? You may also like?
- Bike touring: 5 reasons bike touring should be your next trip
- Bike touring tips and planning considerations
- Complete bicycle touring gear and equipment checklist
- How I fit 24 month’s worth of study into 10
- Affirmations vs Meditation
These blogs are aimed at helping readers through their personal development journey by expanding their comfort zones and positively improve quality of life through a growth mindset. Blog topics may include travel and adventure, mindset and mentality, or physical development.
You may also like these podcasts:
Huberman lab podcast
BBC Radio 4 Podcast with Brian Cox – Physicist