Every year without fail I end up running tech support for an assortment of friends and family when I travel back home for the holidays. This year I’ve already tackled such hard-hitting questions as “Where did my Bitmoji keyboard go?” “Why are people tapping their phone on registers?” and “Why is my computer doing this thing?”
For the most part, the questions are never very hard and are things I can fix immediately, but the questions are plentiful and it ends up taking up a ton of my time when I’m back home.
Earlier this week CNET posted a story with suggestions on things you could do to avoid being your family’s tech support during the holidays such as pass the buck to someone younger, claim you can’t fix a problem, or just saying no. At first glance I thought avoiding tech support duties sounded like a great idea, but the more I thought about it the more I realised I really like being everyone’s favourite tech guru.
While the actual question might be a bit trivial, those 5-10 minutes I spend fixing someone’s small phone or computer problem is actually kind of nice. People are usually eternally grateful when you’re able to fix that small problem that’s been plaguing them for months, you look like a nerd hero, and you get a few minutes of one-on-one time with the person asking for your help. If you go in with a positive attitude (and the problem isn’t a big one), it’s actually a pleasant experience.
CNET did make one suggestion in its plan I agree with, and that I implemented personally years ago: teach people. It’s like the old proverb about teaching a man to fish, if you teach someone how to fix their problem on their own then you’re setting them up to have less of an issue going forward.
For my friend with the lost Bitmoji keyboard, I showed him how to get into the keyboard menu on his iPhone, and then suggested a few other keyboards he might find useful as well. His mind was blown, his problem was fixed, and I’m pretty sure he’s never going to have to come to me with a keyboard problem again. Maybe he could even fix someone’s else’s problem in the future.
Obviously, your mileage may vary. My friend in his 30s is probably more likely to figure out his phone than a 80-year-old grandmother, but if you take the time to teach people it feels less like “work” and more like you’re sharing knowledge and setting them up for future success.