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Columnist Carol is on a mission to raise the “digital literacy” of businesswomen across the world, starting in the UK. With a BA Hons in ‘Visual Communications’ and a course in ‘Digital Excellence’ with the Chartered Institute of Marketing, she also runs We Get Digital, a successful website & SEO agency.

Read all of Carol’s articles here.

… is this you? Something someone actually said to me once was “I am petrified to sit at my computer – I think that every time I hit a key on my keyboard I am going to blow up the f’ing house”.

So, what is behind this fear? I have actually looked this up and there is a hashtag on Twitter #digifear – so it is really a thing. But let’s explore exactly what this could cover.

Typical things could be:

Fear of privacy

The ‘Big Brother’ environment that we are in whereby everyone knows your every move and there is no privacy. This is not just a fear for financial ‘hacking’ this goes deep as well, into medical records and just people/hackers being able to read your private communications.

Privacy covers so many things and I think, even for the most digitally adapted of us, this is still a fear and risk. All I would say is that, as we are evolving in this new digital environment, the ‘big players’ are working round the clock on our protection. The problem is that we are in the middle of this whole change in society and, short of not buying a computer or phone and keeping your whole life analogue, we are all going to have to enter into the risks along with the rewards.

Identity theft – along with fear of privacy this is a big one. And I think the answer to this is, as above. Also I urge and beg everyone to get a good password system going. Something that is really secure but easy to access. At the risk of stating the obvious, Do NOT use the same password for everything. Use a different and complicated password for everything and just get used to the fact that you are going to have to look it up.

Lack of physical communication

This is probably a generational thing. There are many from the ‘baby boomers’ era (yes that is me but I have been digital since 1986!) who fear that society is going to purely communicate digitally and not have that face to face communication that is such an inherent human need. What I would say is, that it is this very fact that keeps us still meeting up and talking face to face! It is a need.

Why, ask yourself, are there SO many networking groups springing up? Why are there so many cafes and restaurants springing up, not just in the UK but all over the world? It’s not only because most the retail side of life has gone online and so the high street needs to let out commercial spaces. People are meeting up more face to face and in these public spaces.

I have 6 children – adults – aged 19 to 28 and the ALL seem to be out most of the time, meeting up with friends, hanging out in each others houses. As do we as parents. So, I can only conclude that digital communications is not completely overtaking the face to face side of life.

Digital Changes

Too many changes in technology are a big worry for many people. Just as you have got used to a system or app, something else comes out as the next big thing. Or you go back into something that was familiar to use and suddenly it has all changed and you don’t know where you are with it all. A bit like when they shuffle everything around in the supermarket. Now, that is a nightmare!

The good news is that most of the changes, although at first seem annoying and daunting, they have usually come about following months of research into how things can be improved and made more user-friendly and secure. So, whilst annoying, once you have the hang of it the changes are usually for the better and worth persevering with.

To use or not to use – that IS the question.

From a small business point of view, one of the biggest #digifears is what tech to use? What software? What app? What computer? What phone? Breaking down into what email system? What CRM (client relationship management) programme? What financial package? And so on and so forth.

We personally have spent copious amounts of money, not to mention time, on sometimes setting up totally the wrong systems for what we need. Overcomplicating things or oversimplifying them so that they can’t grow as we grow. The list is endless.

At the moment everything is in transition. We have to currently get used to the fact that we might get it wrong. There are now many comparison websites and reviews to read and people to ask but this still doesn’t mean that you will get it right.

Do your research

I think the best thing I can say is do your research and due diligence on anything you embark upon digitally. Whether that is buying a new computer system, security, software, business tools and so on. Whatever that looks like, just ask. The answers are out there. Be prepared to fail and start again!

I think it was someone called Susan Jeffers who said “feel the fear but do it anyway” and Nelson Mandela said:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

There are probably many more #digifears out there, but here are a few of the main ones. I would love to hear of any more #digifears and let’s see if we can help in any way.