We may deny it, but secretly those of us over 50+ would love to keep up with "digital natives." What we hate is the extra investment of time required to make up for childhoods that didn't even include e-mail.
You tell yourself that you are going to sit down and watch some of those social media or technology tutorials on YouTube, right? That’s what I told myself too. Without a driving need, it gets pushed back.
Until I had a goal and a fun, necessary application for what I learned, those tutorials always were carried over as something to do the next day, “When I’m fresh.” When I did do it, lack of practice caused me to forget whatever it was I learned within a few months. Not very motivating when you have to go back and re-learn it, even if it comes back to you.
Living and working in another country made me excited about using communication tools to a degree I had never experienced. WhatsApp, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, photo-editing software, and on-line learning courses were all tools I'd never learned to use until I started living in Mexico.
Technology, like Spanish, is the wind beneath your wings when you live in Mexico. The sooner you learn to navigate that wind, the better off you'll be.
When you live in Mexico, if you haven't kept up with technology, you will have to catch up fast. For one thing, keeping in touch with people back home takes more effort. Things don't always work.
You might have to trouble shoot video conferencing apps. You might want to make up for your absence by sending more photos and videos, all more complicated when operating from another country (Differences in data plans, international calling plans, internet reliability all play a part in making things more complicated).
You will have to learn to do more of your own trouble-shooting since people to help you will not be as available - fewer technicians and fewer still who speak English.
Every time I arrive to the U.S. or to Mexico, it takes about a week for everything to work the way it's supposed to, requiring hours to get systems talking to one another again.
Let's say you decide to write a book or start an online business like photography from abroad. Having a website or blog to promote it will carry you down all kinds of electronic paths as you learn how to market yourself online, since the networking, conferences and other face to face methods of marketing are not available. While admittedly frustrating at times, maintaining a website is gratifying and can be an artistic outlet.
You also have to try to keep up with the vocabulary of technology. When things started really taking off with online technology in the 90's, I resisted. What I discovered was my lack of vocabulary was disabling. I couldn't even describe the problem I was having to someone trying to help me. I still struggle with the knee-jerk reaction that I finally recognized as laziness.
Fortunately, videos and forums have improved our resources, giving us material to study and a way to drill down to the basic terminology and move up from there.
I can google a word, then google every word in the definition if I have to, going back, back, back to the most basic word and no one has to know how stupid I am but me (and now, you) Back when I needed help from people, it seemed like the only time they were available to help was when I was tired, irritable or had a million other things on my mind.
It's not always fun, but expat living demands it beyond what just living in the U.S. did. Whenever I get lost in some tech help website where I have forgotten what my original question was and want to walk away, I think back on a story I read some years ago.
The author was describing his elderly mother. She no longer wanted to stay at hotels because she could not get used to not using an actual key to get into the room. The sliding entry card threw her. Little by little, she had lost touch until she couldn’t operate in our society anymore.
I know similar older folks who are stuck with cable channels because they never worked their away around to learning all the other ways to rent a movie once everyone started streaming them.
The point is not that we need Netflix. The point is that if we longer we stay attached to an old technology, the harder it will be to learn the technology that replaces it. Little by little, those who stop bothering become more isolated and unattached to the world. They clutch their movie C.D's and before they know it, those are the only movies they can watch and their laptop doesn't have a C.D. player.
Let's say you decide to write a book or start an online business like photography from abroad. Having a website or blog to promote it will carry you down all kinds of electronic paths as you learn how to market yourself online, since the networking, conferences and other face to face methods of marketing are not available. While admittedly frustrating at times, maintaining a website is gratifying. I'm doing something few of my peers are undertaking.
Living in another country and accepting the technical challenges has given me that extra few ounces of motivation that make all the difference in keeping my knowledge up to date (or to be precise, only a few years behind.)
None of us want to ever be the woman with the hotel key. If you're considing the two-country lifestyle, solving the technical challenges related to a two creating a vital two-country lifestyle ensures that you never will be.
Related Links: You and your laptop, your beating heart, in Mexico - Ventanas Mexico
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About the author:
Hola - I'm Kerry Baker, a partner with Ventanas Mexico and author of the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online," a curation of the best Spanish language tools on the web, linked and organized into lesson plans.
Don't be one of those expats who doesn't speak any Spanish! You can learn post-50! Get started today with the book's lesson plans or create a new plan every day. Study from your laptop, e-reader or tablet.
You'll also need a longer-term stay to test the waters, that's where my new book, "If Only I Had a Place" is a must, giving you a system for renting well year after year. The book also gives you a listing of rental concierges to preview your prospective house or apartment.
Renting in Mexico is different, with advantages and disadvantages for the expat. Know both sides and get the best deal with "If Only I Had a Place.