Technology – The Great Social Equalizer
This week, my wife and I took a quick trip up to Seattle to visit family. While we were there, I got a call from my Mom needing some help on how to set up her email on her new iPhone. It was a fun conversation, and any excuse for talking with my Mom is a good excuse.
Back in 2008, a wonderful video appeared online of John Mayer (the musician) on the phone trying to help his dad figure out how to do something on his computer. That video is here. That video shows that even a famous musician is simply someone’s son when it comes to helping his dad over the phone.
Today, we had lunch with a good friend who told a similar story. Her Mom had dropped her iPhone in water last week and immediately called the daughter for help. My friend is tech-savvy, and knew to suggest that her Mom put the wet phone in a sealed bag of rice. Then, my friend went and stood in line at the Apple store to purchase an iPhone 6 for her mother, simply because her mother was bothered by being without a working mobile phone. That is a great daughter, and even more so because she is famous and very recognizable in her home city.
John Mayer, my friend and I all had versions of the same situation. Many of my generation have enjoyed similar situations. We know more about most forms of technology than our parents; we have typically introduced out parents to technology. We often end up helping them with the inevitable frustrations that come with the benefits of using tech. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Technology shows how we are all equal – no matter who we are, we are still someone’s child helping a parent.
There is another way that technology can serve as a great equalizer. With on-line classes, people from all backgrounds are now able to learn programming skills that can open opportunities for tech jobs that were not possible just a few years ago. We have an opportunity to retool the workforce in the US and around the world to prepare for the wired world. This wired world is the closest thing yet to a true meritocracy: a world where ability and talent count for more than a privileged background.
With a concerted effort, we can build the workforce that companies need to retool themselves to be efficient in the digital age. The entire economy can become more efficient, and we can improve the standard of living for everyone.
A rising tide lifts all boats; and the tide is rising.