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Crossing the River Styx – Digital Immigrants Going Native

Black Rotary PhoneThis might be a shocker confession. I’m a geezer. When the NAR comes out with the stats that show the average age of a Realtor is some big number and the average age of a home buyer is some low number, I’m the one skewing the results for the average, old guy Realtor.

I’m part of that demographic cohort that originated the phrase “dialing the phone” because, well, the phone had a dial and maybe even a phone number with letters in it ( and not the 1-800-GET-LOVE type).  Cell phones used to be the size of large bricks and just as heavy. “Car phones” were hard wired into your car with a little antenna sticking out from your rear windshield and, no, you couldn’t take it out of your car into the local Starbucks.  Partly, because there was no Starbucks.

Some of us remember that Ronald Reagan was a B-movie actor before he became a President. IBM was the computer company. Computers used to run with two 5.25″ floppy disks that were really floppy and you had to interchange them all the time. 1 MB hard drives? Ginomrous!

Fast Forward to 2010

Now, most people living and working in today’s world are kind of like the E-Trade baby.  They’ve never known life without computers and video. Phones aren’t used for actually taking to people and there are so many social media platforms, it’s hard to keep count. Then, there’s the conferences:  SXSW, REBlog World, REBar Camps, Inman, etc. ad infinitum.

Where does it all stop?  More importantly, what really works? And how can you learn all of it fast enough to keep up?

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Like learning a new language and new customs in a foreign land, digital immigrants — those of us that didn’t exchange our umbilical cord for a wireless Internet connection — have a steep learning curve that just keeps getting steeper.  It’s way beyond knowing how to shake hands or how much of a tip to leave.  Yet, learn it we must.

Hablas whatever?

Written By

“Loves sunrise walks on the beach, quaint B & Bs, former Barbie® boyfriend..." Ken is a sole practitioner and Realtor Extraordinaire in the beautiful MD Suburbs of DC. When he's not spouting off on Agent Genius he holds court from his home office in Glenn Dale, MD or the office for RE/MAX Advantage Realty in Fulton, MD...and always on the MD Suburbs of DC Blog

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Vasi Rusu

    April 11, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Loved it! Very well written and so true!

  2. Benn Rosales

    April 11, 2010 at 11:07 am

    I think it’s good to be somewhere between then and now because you can take what you want and leave the rest. We watched the movie “Up in the Air” last night, and if any Realtors haven’t seen it, they should, it really puts into perspective what is happening within ours and other industries. It’s a story about a 23 year old girl modernizing a company without any insight into what the company really does, and by the time it’s over, you see both the need to modernize and the need to remain the same (the love story is quite good too, but I’m always working).

    Sometimes, being the old guy at the table is a good thing, wisdom is so rare these days and needed to make sense of the change around us.

    • Ken Montville

      April 11, 2010 at 3:31 pm

      “Up in the Air” was a good movie on a number of different levels. One level being that the human interaction is still at the center of our business (and the business in the movie). Technology is great if we maintain our perspective.

  3. Missy

    April 11, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Ben, great idea to watch UP. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do to get some down time, this seems like a good fit.

  4. Ken Brand

    April 11, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I love movies. Haven’t seen it yet, need to. Pronto.

    Ken – Nice. So true. These days, like it or not, it’s a forced march. It’s a lot harder if you have to carry the extra-heavy weight of your own resistance and reluctance. Onward, with gritted teeth and half a smile. Or skip into it. Cheers.

  5. Brian Brady

    April 12, 2010 at 12:41 am

    That was an enjoyable article. While I rarely used a rotary phone, “dialing for dollars” was THE prevalent phase when I first started in financial services sales. I think Benn makes a good point about wisdom,

    I once introduced the real-time, voice communication function to a few digital natives (they had it installed on their texting device). They were flabbergasted at its efficacy 🙂

  6. Dan Connolly

    April 12, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Yeah I guess I am a geezer too. I like to tell people that they didn’t have personal computers when I was in school. We didn’t even have calculators. We used a slide rule.
    The weird thing is that I don’t really feel that much different now, than I did when I was a kid (on the inside).

    Where does it all stop? At the dirt nap! And what really works? We can only really know by trial and error. Is the learning curve steeper or harder for us dinosaurs? I don’t know about you but for me it doesn’t really feel harder it feels easier as time rushes by. But I don’t want to keep up, I want to lead the way.

  7. Melanie Wyne

    April 13, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Ken,

    Great post. I think the important point here–that you and others already recognize–is balance. While the wisdom and context of the past is important, we can’t and shouldn’t try to hold off the inevitable changes that technology and time bring. I’ve found that just being open to learning and trying to stay current gets you a long way. Just like learning to say thank you and please (along with some serious hand gesturing) will get you pretty much whatever you need in a foreign country.

  8. anthonys indianapolis homes for sale

    April 18, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    A very entertaining post–I like the “immigrant” metaphor. I can partly relate to your experience as personal computers weren’t available until I was in my teens. My advice to anyone in your position is learn as it becomes necessary. What determines “necessity”? When you’re losing business because you aren’t taking advantage of a medium for communicating or marketing your interests then it is ‘necessary’ to adapt and learn. Of course, knowing which media to adopt may not be obvious to many. Jumping right in as an early adopter of the latest “Web 2.0” platform (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) isn’t necessary. But having a basic understanding of what these things are and how they’re used is a good idea. It’s ok to watch from the sidelines as different platforms will eventually reveal themselves to have been passing fads or prove to be viable media channels with staying power.

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