Digital literacy is the new life skill
In the ancient Chinese philosophy of "yin and yang," similar to the idiom "double edged-sword" in our culture, the concept of dualism exists everywhere. In my column I keep referring to the internet, aka the cloud, having those traits. I also continue to believe that the good (benefits) outweighs the bad (nefarious actors).
One benefit we like to share often in this column is our personal experiences dating back to the late 1990s where AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) assuaged our feelings of being homesick. We could see and talk to each other by using AIM thus keeping our connectedness factor in check. Two decades later, our society has been forced to reckon what I've been preaching for the longest time, no thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the required social distancing.
We now have a crowded field of video chat services where the utility and benefit extend far beyond from users being tied down in front of a webcam attached to a desktop computer or a laptop with built-in camera. Utility of mobility is provided by smartphones and tablets, as not only do they have a rear-facing camera to take pictures but they also have a built-in front-facing camera (aka selfie camera). Best of all they fit in the palm of your hand. The result? Video chat anywhere since smartphones are more ubiquitous than your wallets!
Video chat services like Google's Duo, Meet, Chat, and soon-to-exit-stage-left Hangouts; Apple's FaceTime (only for use among Apple devices); Zoom; and the granddaddy Skype from Microsoft are all at your fingertips. Having options are good but Google's likely redundant offerings are confusing, making Zoom's recent questionable business practices of sending user data without user consent to Facebook almost forgivable due to its product's relative ease of use.
Anecdotally, I note that often we are invitees to virtual meetings and use whatever video chat service the host set it up on. If you also host, using what you used as a participant in other meetings may become your "go to" digital world tool due to familiarity.
Having options is similar to the auto industry having dozens of makes and hundreds of models. The important thing is they all do the same thing – video chat and transportation, respectively. Hence the importance of "digital literacy" to use any of these digital world tools, just like you can drive any car if you have a driver's license.
Talking of digital literacy, our nonprofit's 4th annual Living in the Digital World Senior Expo is going to be a "virtual" event this year on Thursday, May 21, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stay tuned for more information becoming available on our website, empowerseniors.org, and on our social media accounts (@center4aging on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) on how to live stream our presentations from wherever you may be. Hope you will also help us spread the word for another lifelong learning opportunity!
Strategist and technologist with almost 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.
As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation.