What does it mean to be tech savvy?
Being tech savvy is far less about the technology than you may realize. In reality there are some intrinsic qualities that most tech savvy people typically have, but they are also more common qualities than you might think.
It really has nothing to do with IQ, levels of education, or financial status. You often hear non-techies utter words of amazement over the abilities of a tech savvy person as though they possess some kind of technology superpower.
While it’s flattering and offers warm and fuzzy feelings, it’s really not so magical.
It’s important to note that not all tech savvy people are created equal. In the most basic sense anyone who knows something more than another person will be seen as tech savvy in the eyes of the other person.
When you compare the tech skills of my mom & dad, my mom would unquestionably be deemed to be tech savvy. But when she steps into my sphere of technology, she becomes more akin to a technology newbie. Conversely, when I step into the domain of a full blown developer I’m in as much awe as some individuals are with me.
So being tech savvy is unquestionably very subjective. In fact, if you’re ever feeling especially down about a lack of tech skills, volunteer to teach some non-tech seniors how to use Facebook. You’ll feel like a tech superhero in no time!
My point is that there will always be someone who knows more than you, and there will always be someone who knows less than you. So being tech savvy then really isn’t about how much you know.
So let’s look at what being tech savvy IS about.
First and foremost people who get labeled as tech savvy have a desire to understand technology to some point. They possess a curiosity about what makes certain components of technology tick. They might only be interested in a few very specific components, or they might have a burning desire to learn as much as possible. It’s no different than a niche boutique for lingerie versus Walmart. Neither is better or worse, they’re just different.
While having desire isn’t a “skill” that you can learn, it is something that you can develop.
But if you approach technology as a burden, like it’s a chore and something to be despised… then it will always be an uphill battle. This holds true for literally everything in our lives.
As such, being tech savvy boils down to your mindset more than anything. This is further supported when we look at some of the other traits.
The vast majority of technology serves to solve a problem.
- You want to reach more customers – develop an effective online presence.
- You want to easily catalogue the books on your bookcase – setup an Excel spreadsheet.
- You can’t decide whether the blue one looks better or the red one – snap a photo with your phone and text it to a friend.
- You need some marketing materials but can’t afford a designer – learn Canva
It doesn’t matter how big or small the problem is, we often turn to technology to solve it and make something easier to do.
We’re taught to problem solve from a young age and it’s a skill everyone has to some extent. Because problem solving is nothing more than making decisions.
The process you go through to decide what to have for dinner is the same process that’s applied to figuring out technology.
- What outcome do you want?
- What do you already have access to?
- What’s missing that you need?
- What alternatives are available?
- Work with what you’ve got and see if it meets your desired outcome.
- Not sure how to do something, search it up and follow the instructions.
- If you don’t get the desired results, try again.
Tech savvy people have a tendency to embrace problem solving. Whether it’s figuring out how to do something, improve how something is done, or fix something that’s broken.
Non-techies will often end up with that deer-in-the-headlights look when technology seems to go sideways on them. Which is really nothing more than fear; it’s a limiting belief. And fear is something we all work on conquering everyday.
At the end of the day, problem solving is really a combination of research and trial and error.
Another trait common to tech savvy people is that they’re persistent. Tenacious. A dog with a bone. When one thing doesn’t work or produce the desired result, they’ll try something else. And again and again, until they get what they want.
If you start to read a book and there’s a word in the first sentence that you don’t know, do you put the book down thinking “oh I’m not going to be able to read this”?
If you make a meal and accidentally burn it, do you stop cooking forever thinking “oh clearly I can’t cook, so I better not try”?
If you make a mistake in any area of your life, do you immediately give up and never try again?
I think I’m pretty safe in assuming that most people will answer “no” to these.
And this is because when we have a desire to do something we apply persistence. If you want to figure out what Twitter is and how it works, you need to be persistent and you will get it. If you’re not persistent, then it’s clearly not something you actually want.
I can hear so many tech savvy people laughing hysterically over this one, as they glance around their workspace and see the mounds of chaos threatening to takeover.
But in this sense, when I refer to being organized it’s different than being OCD. Really it’s more about being systematic. It’s having an organized, logical, sequential approach to doing something.
This is demonstrated really well in my beginners course on how to use Canva. Whether you’re learning how to use something new or trying to solve a problem, you need to take an organized, sequential approach to it or you’ll never keep it straight as to what you’ve done and haven’t done.
Tech savvy people do this without even thinking about it. There is always a series of steps that progress from simple (is it plugged in), to complicated (is there a conflict or corruption in a core file). And guaranteed, the one time that you skip one of the logical, sequential steps, is the one time when that skipped step would have solved the problem or produced the desired result.
Now you may have read through this and be thinking “I possess these qualities but I’m still a non-techie!”
To be honest, it’s not your fault and this is what I’m hoping this article will shed some light on.
As technologies began to emerge, society split into the groups of those who get it and those who don’t. Those who figured it out early then managed to make those who didn’t get it to believe that it was something deeply complicated, mysterious, and even dangerous.
So we end up seeing many people with all of the above qualities believing that they’re not capable of “doing” technology. And it’s just not true.
First off, utilizing technology for anything is only as effective as the manual (or analogue) system that it’s based on.
If you want a digital calendar, then you need to know how you would setup a paper version before you try to make it work on the computer. Converting it to digital will then be much easier, because it’s really nothing more than a series of clicks and typing. The problem occurs when people don’t know what end result they want or need before they try to tackle something on the computer.
Once you’ve replicated a manual system to digital, then you can start to look at the additional features that being digital provides to improve upon your manual system.
If you want to learn something new, start at the beginning. Don’t jump in part way through, you’ll get overwhelmed and frustrated. If it feels crazy elementary and easy doing this, that’s because it is. And when you work through it from the beginning, every single step will feel as easy as the previous step. If you jump ahead, it will feel hard and even impossible.
I’m not joking when I say that technology isn’t complicated, magical, or difficult. It’s sequential. Nothing more.
Secondly, common sense plays as much of a part in technology as it does in real life scenarios.
If a stranger walked up to you on the street and said that they’re from the bank and they’re going to need your full name, address, social insurance/security number, date of birth, account number and pin code… you certainly wouldn’t give it to them. Even if they produced ID and official looking documents. Even if they came to your house and asked for this. You’d be suspicious and you’d either tell them to go away, ignore them or investigate further.
This is where the perceived “danger” comes into play online. Because when someone receives digital correspondence of this kind, along with drastic consequences stated, people panic. At the end of the day, treat a stranger online the same way that you would in the street. Apply common sense and always investigate anything you’re not sure about.
I’ll expand more on best practices for online safety in another article, but you get the general idea.
Common sense also comes into play in routine situations.
Much of the front end language used in technology is based on words that we already know the meaning of. “Delete” is going to throw something away. If you’re not 100% sure that you do in fact want to throw it away, don’t hit “Yes delete”.
If your car’s check engine light comes on or it starts making a terrible noise, chances are you’re going to take it to a car mechanic, if you’re not personally mechanically inclined. Your computer is no different. In both scenarios there is a certain level of self-diagnosis that you can do if you look at the manual or do a bit of research. But as soon as it steps out of your comfort zone, take it to a professional.
When you first got a new household appliance, you probably took a bit of time to read the instructions and the warnings that come with it. You wouldn’t open the valve on a propane tank and then hold an open flame to it. So if a warning shows up on your computer, read it and consider the consequences logically. While it may not be something that will cause bodily damage to you, something that sounds like it’s going to make major changes to something that you’re not even sure what it is, then chances are you don’t want to proceed without professional advice.
As for anything else, there’s very little damage that you can do by trying something and most everything comes with an undo button. Locate that first, then go ahead and select some text and click on the icon of the scissors to see what happens! (You get my point.)
One of the biggest problems that people run into with technology is that they don’t read. They don’t read the instructions provided in the first place and they don’t read the warnings that pop up. 99% of your challenges with technology will disappear if you slow down and take the time to read.
Does a particular webpage overwhelm you? Is it cluttered and confusing? Take control. Don’t let your eyes do the Mexican Bean Dance on your screen. Force yourself to start in the top left corner, work left to right and top to bottom. Clearly my intended audience is English, and left to right, top to bottom is the logical sequential order to all visual materials in our society. A webpage is no different.
Slow down, read, and really SEE. You’ll be amazed at the world that opens up before you.
And lastly, being tech savvy does not mean that you know everything there is to know about technology. I learn new things everyday. I even learn things when I’m doing recordings for my courses that are teaching you how to do something.
Google is a tech savvy person’s best friend. Tech savvy people do the research, they ask questions, they try. That’s it. It’s not some Masters/PhD level skill. Why do you think so many young people have managed to do such incredible things with technology? It’s certainly not because they’re geniuses! Many of them can’t tell the difference between “to and too”, but they’re raking in the dough online like it’s a walk in the park. Why? Because it really is that simple.
If technology was actually difficult there is just no way that such a large percentage of youths and young adults would tackle it the way that they have. This isn’t disrespect towards young people, it’s the reality of a society stereotype. Our society is always looking for a way to reduce the hard work and make things easier. And why not?! Technology is often the answer to making something easier.
Some people have been known to generate a six-figure income online with more ease than it takes to become a teacher or a doctor.
So if you’re a “non-techie” then the truth is that it’s a choice that you’re making based on your own internal limiting beliefs.
Slow down, read, and really SEE.
Apply your own qualities of Desire, Problem Solving, Persistence, and Sequential Organization, and people will be calling YOU their tech savvy guru before you know it.
But I’m going to share one more piece of good news. Most tech savvy people have arrived at the point of being tech savvy through unguided trial and error. Which makes it an even slower growth process for some people, with even more frustration than normal.
You don’t have to go through that, and you can reach your tech goals much faster. This is possible by working with systems and processes with specific goals in mind and being fully supported throughout the process.
And this is exactly what we do at Panoptic Foundations. We don’t offer “do it for you” services, we teach you how to do it for yourself. And I promise you, the way we break things down and provide you with a guided path… you’ll be saying “I had no idea it was this easy” in no time.
The only thing we require of our students and members is that you:
Slow down, read, and really SEE.
So what is your FIRST tech goal? Just one. What do you have a burning desire to be able to do when it comes to technology? There is no right or wrong answer and you can leave your answer in the comments below. Or email it to [email protected] and your information will be kept confidential.
About the Author
Tanya Jones (Thibodeau) is a YA/Fantasy author as well as the the owner and publisher of the Gateway Gazette, a digital media news source. Tanya has 12 years of experience in publishing and marketing and 25 years of experience in various business sectors. While offering most “do-it-for-you” marketing services is not part of her business model, she has spent a great deal of time over the last 12 years researching and learning about the ins and outs of marketing, solely for the purpose of being able to pass that knowledge on to help clients. This passion has expanded into a new venture called Panoptic Foundations where they teach entrepreneurs & authorpreneurs how to create and maintain a thriving online presence, from scratch, with ease, even if you’re not techie.
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