When I use technology, I can’t help but think of this driver’s refrain, passed on to me by a former (slightly suspect) driver’s ed instructor: if you aren’t sure where you’re going, it’s best to travel on the road you know. It sounds dull and silly, but sometimes the shortcut gets you lost, takes longer, or causes an unnecessary headache. Take the road well-traveled if you know it will get you to your destination. It may not look pretty or be efficient but at least you know where it takes you. With technology, knowing what you are doing is crucial. Sometimes, as I had to remind Jill last week, it’s best to skip the shortcuts and go with what you already know.
You see, there’s this lovely plug-in for WordPress blogs that allows you to post a snippet of your latest blog post, within 10 seconds of clicking “publish”, to your Facebook Page. It can be a bit of a hassle to set up if you’ve never created an application in Facebook before but I’ve found that the end result is worth it. When one of our clients launched her website last week, Jill asked me to set up her blog so that it would feed onto her author page on Facebook. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fulfill her request… because our client wasn’t using a WordPress website.
You see, we decided to create her website using a different content management system (CMS) and it wasn’t as advanced as WordPress in terms of blogging features and third-party applications. We went with a different CMS because it allowed our client to have more control over her website. She is able to edit her website on her own because the plug-and-play format is easier for her to use; it requires less Internet-savvy and absolutely zero familiarity with HTML. Armed with a few short tutorials from Jill, our client has total ownership over her site. No need for a developer. She chose to DIY.
However, because our client isn’t using a WordPress site, the plug-in will not work. Furthermore, I’m definitely not savvy enough to develop one on my own that would perform the same function. Naturally, Jill was a little disappointed in the CMS and she was, frankly, worried. Well, how is our client going to update her Facebook Page when she has new blog posts? I couldn’t help but smirk. Not to be cute, but the answer is obvious. The plug-in technology exists to make completing mundane tasks easier on us, you betcha. But should we always, without fail, use it? If the technology doesn’t exist, should we give up on the task?
No. Absolutely not. (Side note: my biggest concern for the future generations is that the answer to that question will be YES. I worry that convenience will turn us into helpless toddlers.) I think you can guess what I told Jill. But just in case, I’ll repeat my response here. The client will post a link to her blog posts just like the rest of us: manually. Copy the link, go to Facebook, and paste it into the text box as a status update. It’s not arduous. It’s mundane. We do these three steps often. Anytime we want to share something on social media, we complete these three steps. There are shortcuts – buttons and icons on the page to make sharing easier – but if they are missing who cares? If the content is good, we’ll still share it.
Maybe certain technologies exist to make our lives more convenient, but we don’t always need to use them – or rely upon them – simply because the possibility exists. There is no harm in taking the long way around. Sure, to advocate for inefficiency seems blasphemous considering how full and busy our lives are – not to mention how much content is available for us to consume and the time it takes to curate all of it. However, inefficiency isn’t such a horrible crux if the alternative is to abandon the task altogether. Technology can be inspiring and innovative, but it’s also a shortcut. How many times have you, as a consumer, thrown up your hands and given up because the technology was just too damn confusing? Or how about when the directions are unclear and you feel lost, frustrated, and absolutely exasperated?
At what point does technology and innovative lose its value? When it surpasses our comfort levels? When we lose all sense of control? When we don’t know how to read the map? Or is it simply when we realize the long way around was the easiest solution – and we feel silly for not relying upon tried and true methods from the onset?
Since when has “new” become synonymous with “superior” and “old” scorned as “inferior”?