As at the time that I graduated in 1998, I had no PC skills besides checking for and sending emails via Yahoo (Gmail didn’t exist back then). You could say that I was computer illiterate. The world that I grew up in had no PCs and mobile phones in them – from primary through secondary school. By the time I was in the university, email was just gaining ground, and I remember paying a significant amount to have my first email account opened for me.
Shortly after I left school, mobile technology hit the shores of Nigeria. Also, internet access was just beginning to spread at the time. I went into website design, which was cutting edge back in 2003. There was no Facebook. No Twitter. No Google Plus. Social networking was strictly what you did offline (and perhaps on discussion forums online). Then the wave of online social networking hit. I didn’t understand it. I was reluctant to get on it, but I did get on Facebook soon enough. Twitter was that place where jobless people wasted their time sharing what they had for breakfast and other unimportant bits of their lives. But I did eventually get on that too.
The advances in mobile cameras and widespread internet access via mobile networks meant that people could take a picture on the spur of the moment and push it online immediately. It also meant that users could publish from wherever and at any time. If you grew up in this new wave, you probably have no idea how difficult it can be adjusting and adapting to new fads every four to five years. I grew up with television, radio and newspapers for close to 30 years. Very little change in three decades. And then suddenly, changes that are so rapid and earth-shattering were required if one was to stay in tune with modern day realities.
One of the ways that I have been able to keep up is by choosing to deliberately mingle with younger people. People say I act younger than I am. That is my secret strategy for staying in touch till I die. It still isn’t easy. I remember the first time some individuals raised certain issues with me on Twitter. In the world that I had grown up in, certain things were not to be discussed in public. I had to come to terms with the fact that things were now different. The world as I knew it was extinct. This was a whole new world with new players who never lived by the old rules and terms. I had to adjust or go extinct.
I remember when I first started providing webhosting and design and worked from home. Neighbours couldn’t understand how an able-bodied young man would sit at home all day while his wife went to work. Yet, here we are a decade later, and more never-before imagined jobs and vocations that can be run from home have evolved. Social media management, blogging, and virtual assistants are just a few obvious ones. Note also how some of these new vocations have no strict need of a formal education. Almost anyone can learn what it takes to blog or manage social media just by using Google or Bing. Suddenly, there aren’t many excuses for not having something gainful to do any more. How things have changed.
Already, I see Google Glass and smart watches, and I’m standing aloof again. They just don’t impress yet. Still, should the world embrace it, I have no choice. Of course, I imagine that the functionality of smartwatches, for example, will be improved on. As they are right now, they are more of gimmicky toys.
I look at the future and I know for sure that more lifestyle altering changes are on the way, thanks to ICT. Again, they will require quick adaptation. Again, I hope to keep up. I have an eye on my kids already. They have a lot to teach me in the years ahead.