Dear Luddite Friend,

Yes, I’m talking to you, friend of mine who, like me, still remembers rotary- dial phones and console TV’s pre-remote control.

I’ve got some tough talk for you: It’s time to grow up.

It’s no longer cute or even acceptable to throw your hands in the air and say “I’m not a tecchie!” and walk away when faced with an issue as simple as email or reading a text message on your phone. That meme of the baby holding the phone and explaining to Grandma how to power up her computer is STALE.

Not only have you annoyed your family, friends and co-workers with your dependence on them for simple daily tasks, but you’re really hurting your self-image which can impact perceptions of you as someone who is oppositional at best and downright non-compliant at worst. You’re being AGEIST. You are only hurting yourself.

You may think of yourself as someone who doesn’t work in the tech field, but we ALL work in the tech field now. Refusing to upgrade your skills and platforms you use is a form of self-sabotage.

Make 2017 the year you take the initiative to learn more about navigating the digital world so that when the robot takeover happens you’re not completely caught off guard. Become a responsible citizen of the online world. It’s here to stay.

STOP doing these things in 2017

STOP using Facebook posts to communicate with your friends and family. When your Vet posts a cute picture of a puppy, don’t tag your sister in law in the comments section and ask her a question about Book Club. Seriously. Send a FB Message, an email, or join a Facebook Group to get your questions answered.

Stop asking anyone under the age of 35 for help with anything. GOOGLE IT. There’s a YouTube tutorial for just about anything. Don’t be that person that everyone avoids engaging with because they know they’ll get sucked into a 15-minute one-on-one helping you with your email or Twitter account.

STOP using Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail. Get a GMAIL account and learn to use Google Docs. Google is here to stay in case you haven’t heard, and you need to get on board. Leave IE and Firefox behind. Use Google Chrome. Most websites are being designed for Chrome, and some features won’t even display on IE anymore.

STOP acting like you can see without glasses. We all can tell how old you are. Get a good pair of computer glasses from your Optometrist that are fitted for you at the proper distance from your computer screen. Or, investigate multifocal contact lenses so you can read your phone and drive your car (just not at the same time).

STOP using Verizon ringback tones. Seriously, that’s still around?! And while you’re at it, review your cell phone bill and streamline it, get rid of unused services and outdated data packages. Update your voicemail message.

START doing these things in 2017

Learn to use your phone. It’s not really a phone anymore. It’s an amazing camera and a tiny computer. Take 1 hour a week to learn a feature you’ve never used before.

Learn to use Instagram. Many brands are diversifying their ad platforms and you may be missing out on some great content that is shared there. And there are some beautiful images being shared that can transport you to another world.

Start using Facebook Groups and YouTube to answer your questions about anything. There’s endless support out there, but you just have to know where to look. Type a subject into the search bar in Facebook or Google and Magic Presto! You’ll find someone who knows more than you do on the topic.

Start using an online password manager. Stop walking around the planet with all of your passwords scratched on post-it notes.  At the very least start one document that you update frequently and keep in a secure place. STOP putting your post-it note passwords on the edge of your computer at work for everyone to see.

Learn how to recognize PHISHING. Yep, that’s what caught the DNC off-guard, and once you’ve clicked that link in the suspicious email and provided personal data it’s all over. HACKED. If you get an email requesting an urgent action, STOP. THINK. DO NOT CLICK. Go to your bank online in a new tab that you’ve opened and navigated to independently of your email. Call your bank or whoever it is. Be proactive instead of reactive. Stop being a victim.

Take a class. On anything. Studies show that when we actively engage in learning something new, we’re exercising our brain and opening neural pathways. Lynda.com offers great online training for free through most public library systems. It’s time to step up your game and learn how to participate in this brave, new world!