'It's like you've opened the curtain': Technophobic Kiwis take up the challenge to get connected

  • 30/07/2021
  • Sponsored by - Chorus
Alayne and Adam on the couch.
Alayne and Adam on the couch. Photo credit: Chorus

With everyday life increasingly taking place online, everything from catching up with friends to the weekly grocery shop can require at least a basic amount of tech literacy.

This means those who are less tech confident risk being left behind or becoming more isolated. BNZ's Digital Skills report has found approximately 700,000 adult Kiwis lack the essential know-how to use the internet safely and effectively. 

So in this multi-part web-series called Challenge Accepted, Chorus partnered with Newshub to get technophobic or just techsceptic New Zealanders to overcome their fears and experience the extraordinary benefits technology offers in 2021.

One such Kiwi is 66 year-old Nelson local Alayne McLaren, a self-confessed 'luddite' and 'complete technophobe' who often relies on her son Adam for guidance.

"I'm normally a confident, happy person who can handle most difficulties and situations but I do not cope well with technology. I am now forever calling up my son saying 'how do you do this or how do you do that?"

Alayne using the computer.
Alayne using the computer. Photo credit: Chorus

Alayne may be challenged by modern digital technology but is more than capable with analog formats. Her passion for photography led her to become New Zealand's second female camera operator as well as working with the likes of David Attenborough during a stint at the BBC. 

So Chorus challenged Alayne to take a collection of photos with her new digital camera, upload them to her computer and then share a selection with her family. A process that's become second nature to many younger people but is alien to Alayne. 

"I can see what I want to shoot and can frame it the way I want to but once I've captured it [uploading the photos] is a little beyond me. I sort of don't want to have to deal with it."

To help Alayne along, Chorus provided a new computer and a connection to fibre. New Zealand's fastest and most reliable broadband. This meant she could upload and share even high-resolution photos in seconds - once she figured out how to get them there of course.  

Alayne got off to a great start taking snaps while out kayaking but her challenge nearly capsized when she accidentally formatted her camera card, losing all of her photos in the process. An understandable mistake for someone used to a time when 'format' had a different meaning. 

"I was very upset, I never realised that to format meant to delete everything. Format to me means you've got your photo and you're going to crop it or lighten it or that sort of thing."

Alayne taking snaps while out kayaking.
Alayne taking snaps while out kayaking. Photo credit: Chorus

However, Alayne took it in her stride and with a little guidance by a tech expert from Noel Leeming she managed to upload and share a selection of photos from a walk with Adam in the beautiful Barnicoat Range.

"I feel I've made some strides forward, you've taken me over that border of 'oh no no I just don't even want to go there," she said. 

Chorus Consumer Marketing Lead Kate Murchison says it's that initial step that's the hardest for technophobes Kiwis, particularly for Kiwis like Alayne who are so independent and capable in other areas of their life. 

"Alayne has done such incredible things and so for her it was the frustration of being left behind which was really challenging to her as a person…but that one session, one very interesting session, was enough to give her the confidence to give it a go and that is largely all it takes."

As for Alayne's message to those in a similar position to her, it's simple - just keep at it.

"Don't give up, you can get training, because [technology] is part of all of our lives and our families lives. We do get left out if we don't keep up with it.

"It's like someone's pulled the curtain open and you can see the light coming through again and you can see that this is something you can do."

You can follow Alayne's journey and see more challenge participants by heading to the Chorus YouTube channel. Or visit chorus.co.nz/digital-support-directory to find a list of digital support resources available to help get you started.

This article was created for Chorus