Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Overwhelmed in the genealogical online jungle

I have spent most of my life in desert Southwest of the United States. I can remember standing on a hill on the Colorado Plateau and calculating that I could see almost 1/5 of entire State of Arizona from my vantage point. It is not unusual to be able to see over 100 miles in any direction. When I first arrived in Panama to live, I was overwhelmed with the limitations imposed by the jungle. I distinctly remember standing at the very edge of where the jungle had been cleared and staring at the wall of plants and wondering how I could even move one foot forward. I was paralyzed by the complexity of the jungle and it unfamiliarity. I could not see more than a few feet into the dark, thick vegetation and I was very apprehensive of the unknown.

Because I am familiar with the Internet, I can see the overall picture of how it works and it is like standing on that hill on the Colorado Plateau. I can see forever. But I certainly relate to those people out there who are staring at an impenetrable wall and cannot either understand or comprehend what they are looking at.

What is the key to understanding and overcoming these feelings of being overwhelmed? I didn't think I would ever feel "at home" in the jungle, but after two years, it was at least familiar and not so intimidating. I found that, like everything in life, the jungle was comprehensible with familiarity. I learned to walk through the jungle without being afraid that I would be eaten by one of its denizens.

If you are overwhelmed and fearful of the Internet, there is hope. You can learn a few basic skills that will help to overcome these feeling of inadequacy. The operative word here is "learn." The process is called practice. If I had let my fear of the jungle control me, I could have avoided it for my entire stay in Panama. But my curiosity and sense of adventure overcame my initial fear and I don't know that I learned to love the jungle, but I did learn to live in it. 

It is the same with the jungle of the Internet. Taken a small step at a time, it is comprehensible and not intimidating. There are dangers for sure, but they are manageable and not usually fatal.

Where do you start? Like me with the jungle, you start one small step at a time. It also helps to study and learn all you can about the Internet. I meet so many people who say the same thing, "I don't know anything (or much) about computers or the Internet but..." So what did they do to learn? There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of introductory books for learning about computers and the Internet.

Try these for example:
I hope you get the idea here without a longer list. The instructions for using computers come in classes, books and on the Internet itself. Knowledge overcomes fear.

What if you are already proficient in using the Internet and are a whiz with computers? Don't you think you should share that information with others? How about teaching someone to use a computer and while you do that, help them with their genealogy.

1 comment:

  1. Great article James, love your story. I think there is a great opportunity to teach others about the internet. My mother is 80 years old and now owns an ipad and "googles". She has learned how to receive and send email all in the last year. Her internet world is small but the process of learning keeps her young.