I would imagine that in this day and age most people are using a navigation app on their phones to find their way around unknown spaces. I always do. What a great addition to the restfulness of my vacations has been the advent of Google Maps! No more bulky paper maps folded over awkwardly in order to see where you are going! My destination always seemed to rest at the worn-out fold on the map I was using. Some people still use maps, I suppose. I heard recently, in fact, that we should keep maps in our cars so that if there is a satellite or other failure, we won’t get completely lost. Anyway, not everyone has a cell phone or GPS system in their car, so the opportunity to direct a lost person through a rolled-down window at the side of the road has not disappeared entirely and never will.
Today, I was stopped by some ladies that had gotten themselves completely turned around while trying to find a particular store. From their starting point, they had driven as far north as they should have driven south. I knew the moment I caught sight of the slowly opening window of the rolling-to-a-stop car—they were lost.
Saying, “Oh, why don’t you have a cell phone?” would not have been helpful at that moment. I know that’s the first thing that comes to mind—since it came first to my mind, too—but saying things like that to people is not kind. One should put oneself in the place of the hearer and respond helpfully. Think about what you are saying and how it will sound. Questioning how the person got into the problem is the same as criticizing them. Criticizing someone who is already in a bind will more than likely not equip that person to do better next time.
Criticizing people as technological neophytes probably will undermine their confidence. Confidence is needed for people to take steps that are new and unfamiliar. A put-down added into such conversations is nothing more than a self-aggrandizing dig that says, “I know more than you. You are less than me.” A lot of people don’t even realize they dish out such put downs; a lot, don’t seem to care. Some people even seem to like adding that little dig.
If you feel like you need to add a dig into a conversation with someone who already feels badly because they are lost or are having some other technical problems, then you need to realize that such reactions are not helpful and are not very kind. I doubt whether anyone really likes to be told that they are old-fashioned or behind-the-times technologically. Whether the person lacks modern technology or knowledge because they don’t have money for it or because they lack the confidence or understanding to acquire it, putting them down will not help them modernize or feel enough confidence to face the multitude of complexities in growing a technological skillset for using new devices and platforms.
Helping someone who needs help finding their way is the kind thing to do, even if you think they could find a better way to get around. You may be lost some day and they might help you.