An unknown error has occurred
Have you ever seen that message? On a computer? on a smartphone? tablet? or maybe a blinking RED light on your car panel?
How do you react when you see it?
Whenever I have car trouble of pretty much any kind I do one thing, I call my mechanic pretty instantaneously and take the automobile to him. When I arrive and he opens the hood I typically have no idea how this guy is able to locate and identify with impressive precision and speed the source of the problem. I’m quite impressed because when I see the red blinking light I have this look on my face “oh shit! what the hell just happened?’. When I open the hood of the car I might as well be looking at the inner workings of a spaceship preparing to launch for a Mars mission.
The paradox of the information age
Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but it’s not far off, I’m pretty clueless at car repair and engine issues which brings me to my point. It’s 2018 and we have these terminals everywhere. We use them to buy public transport tickets, print boarding passes, withdraw money, get information and much more. Many adults struggle with these terminals. No matter how user friendly they become they find it extremely difficult to navigate the touch screen and so avoid them at all costs. On the flip side, there are lots of teenagers that have incredible difficulty with connecting devices or fixing problems that may arise when using technology. No matter how easy or simple designers make the technology it’s remarkable how we struggle with using them. Why is this?
Maybe it’s education, maybe it’s simply the rapid speed of development but are we giving proper instruction, are we explaining it properly to our students, or ordinary citizens who want to use online banking, withdraw money, or send an email? Maybe they would like to skype or whatsapp, but somehow it seems to elude many older adults and yet for the younger generation it seems as intuitive as turning on the faucet for a glass of water.
It’s the power of programming. When you are raised and programmed to think and operate in life in a specific way it makes sense that you will struggle with the new rules and standards, the constant changes and the demand that adapting requires. When a baby hears a language spoken to them, it’s brain has an ability that ours doesn’t anymore. It records the sounds it hears, every, single, one. The more you repeat the words of the language, the sentences, the questions, the slang, the baby’s brain records and creates neural pathways that last a long time, maybe for life. WE don’t have that ability but babies do and that’s why they can learn multiple languages at once, without notes, memorization or grammar rules.
Some people decided that the best way to learn language is by teaching grammar rules, or completing a coursebook or doing exercises. Some people decided that learning is memorizing numbers, calculations, dates and names. But surely there is a better way right?
Whatever that way may be, it seems to me that one way forward is to to just make that effort to practice through trial and error and become familiar with the unknown until it becomes familiar and solvable. If it’s language, make a mistake, make a thousand, but sooner or later, you’ll get there. If it’s a computer error, navigate around the error and do this in multiple ways till you get there. If it’s a cash withdrawal, an email, a skype call, or online banking, be vigilant, fearless and download that app or sign up and mow forward. If it is a terminal, ask someone to guide you until you get to where you want to be and then do it again. It seems that our brains have an amazing capacity to learn, if we just push forward those NEW neural pathways will allow us to navigate our rapidly changing world.
Finally, if it’s your car, you can take it to the mechanic, mine is happy to help 🙂
or google ‘car repair basics’ and you are off on your own. Go get ’em!