What’s a Webinar Anyway?

As I stood at the till to pay, the barber who’d come all the way from Estonia to cut my hair asked me if I was a patient. ‘Sorry’ I replied. ‘Are you a patient?’ Aware I’d put my hearing aids into a pocket and everything was a bit muffled, I looked at him helplessly. ‘Are you over 65?’ He said kindly. ‘Oh, am I a pensioner?’ Asking if I was over 65 was a smart move and got him an extra couple of pounds on the tip. I went on my way feeling pretty good.

A few days earlier I’d been feeling my age. The Dorset police had cordially invited me onto a speed awareness course as an alternative to 3 points on my license. I’d accepted but hadn’t been looking forward to it, believing it to be a form of ritual humiliation to teach me a lesson. In fact it wasn’t this at all. The presenter was a civilian, a driving instructor who knew a bit about driving; I learned a few things which might save mine and possibly other people’s lives, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Rather than return to Dorset, the scene of my crime, I had the option of doing it on a webinar, bit like Zoom, very straightforward, even for someone like me who’s a complete muppet where technology is concerned. They invite you to test the connection beforehand and make sure you understand how to message, mute and unmute so forth. I did all this and it was pretty straightforward. 

What worried me was the tricky time the presenter had to get everybody else up and running. The rest of the group were less than half my age. I’ve always assumed that young people knew their way around anything to do with IT. If you need help with your laptop go and find an 8 year old sort of thing.

On this occasion the course leader spent precious minutes with at least half the participants, mostly the younger ones, trying to get them to mute, unmute, use the message box, even show their faces. This is worrying. They’re our future and there are certain skills that will be increasingly vital if they want to get on. I don’t much like video conferencing, but it saved me a drive to Dorset. Right now I’m working with people as far apart as Northern Ireland and Texas, so whatever I might feel, if I want to communicate, I have to stay up to date with technology. I have some gaps which I need to fill and I’ll be making a point of getting some instruction. Now lockdowns are hopefully a never to be repeated experiment, my plan was to avoid webinars. In today’s world though I suspect I need to be doing more rather than less on this front if I want to stay in touch with people.

Time perhaps for you to review and see if there are skills that need refreshing in your life.

I shall end with a prayer of Joyce Rupp, always an inspiration to me:

Kind and loving God,

Fill me with the courage and inspiration

To let go of my insecurities

When they keep me from following you.

May I become more trusting of your care for me.

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