Although "kids love computers," says IBM'S Dot Selinger, "adults historically have feared new technology.
"Back when the railroad was new, people claimed it would require building new insane asylums. Citizens would be driven mad with terror at the sight of the black, smoking machines traveling at the breakneck speed of 15 miles per hour."
Despite widespread "technophobia," computers are entering our lives in new ways every day -- at the supermarket check-out counter, in libraries, at school, at home and on-the-job in countless professions, from politics to accounting.
If creeping computerization fills you with future shock, Selinger has these suggestions for learning to love (or at least live with) computers:
Think benefits. "Many people immediately see change as loss -- trading in the old familiar typewriter, for example, for the unfamiliar VDT (video-display terminal). If it helps, grieve some for the trusty old Underwood, but don't dwell on it.
Examine your fears. If you feel threatened by a computer, it may hinder your ability to learn how to use it.
These fears are probably unfounded. If you admit them you may stop feeling so tense and antagonistic toward the machine.
relax. Don't expect instant success. Keep notes and reference materials handy.
Start simply. Rather than beginning with something tough that you hate to do (to prove the computer won't work), pick something easy and fun.
Name your machine, if it helps. "We've seen a pattern of people calling their computers Mabel or Herman, or whatever."
Selinger says employers can ease the transition if they:
Allow time to adapt. If the staff is expected to instantly embrace the technology, they may circumvent or purposely block the system. The amount of time depends on the extent of the change, but in "an average office" the transition may take two or three months.
Consider timing. The worst time, for example, to put a system into an accounting firm is right before taxes are due. "Then when the work doesn't get done, the system will be to blame."