I’m very comfortable performing in front of audiences but learning any kind of computer technology can bring me to tears. At best, I’m convinced I am going to break my computer; at worst, the entire Internet. Regardless, mistakes will be made. Bad mistakes.
Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s my gender. I was raised that technology is a male thing, like grilling outdoors — women didn’t need to learn either one. So I’ve stayed stuck and dependent on others, missing countless opportunities to use new mediums, market my work, and even communicate with nieces and nephews (the eye rolling when I confessed I did not know how to text was extreme; now, it is our primary form of communication).
Seeing the Light
Then I read Nuala O’Faolain’s memoir, Are You Somebody? where she talks about her years as a BBC producer back in the 1970s:
“I had knowledge and imagination. But I didn’t even listen when we were being taught the technical side…If I heard words like “focal depth” or “interneg stage” I stopped trying to understand. This turning away from even the possibility of acquiring technical understanding and technical skills did me — and a lot of other women, I imagine — great harm…But technological insecurity is a strain, and in the end it limits your thinking. I was stacking up trouble for the future.”
Those words resonated in a big way. And then my 22-year-old niece, who’s in journalism graduate school, told me about her blog, and how she taught herself to create it, and integrate it with her Facebook page, and she spoke with no fear and complete confidence about the tools of social media. She inspired me.
My choice was simple: stay inside my comfort zone and miss creative and business opportunities, or buck up, be a beginner, and learn a new way of communicating and making art.
Taking the Plunge
My friend Greg Connolly, who runs First Tracks Marketing in Peterborough, walked me through the process and Matt Nelson, his interactive media director, worked with me to create my new website. I only cried in his office once. Matt’s best directions to me during the teaching process, “Try to break it.” What started out as terrifying is now actually FUN, plus I have control of my communications — a very good thing. While I won’t be writing html code in my near future, I will be updating the website’s content, posting blogs, and changing images as I see fit. Two months ago, I would have thought that was as likely as me bungee jumping. And the confidence I’m now feeling around my new found skills is spilling over into other areas of my life. For instance, I’ll be performing on The Moth Mainstage this Thursday evening in NYC to an audience of nearly 1,000 — my biggest audience yet. But after successfully changing the titles on my website’s navigation bar, the upcoming performance feels like a piece of cake!
Hope you’ll come visit me here often — I look forward to it.