The Attack of the Pridefully Ignorant

Business TelephoneI had to take a one-day trip to Boca Raton, FL this week to attend a family event. During my trip, I met several people (of a certain age) who feigned interest in my profession. I was drawn into conversation after conversation where I had to defend the existential necessity of digital literacy. Would it be a cliché if I told you how many of these individuals had flip phones? Would it be stereotypical to describe the number of doctors, lawyers and retired investors who have their secretaries print out their emails? Would it be hackneyed to recount the pridefully ignorant way that each individual espoused the reasons they lead an unconnected life? Perhaps. But, based upon the hundreds of emails I received requesting a follow-up to last week’s article, “Are You Employable In 2012?,” I’m going to give it a shot.

An attorney, who has a remarkably successful practice in South Florida, told me that he doesn’t see any reason to follow the industry trend of hiring electronic discovery experts. He boasted to me that remaining antiquated protected his practice from modern invasive electronic discovery techniques. He went on to tell me how he knew all about this “tech stuff,” but it just wasn’t important enough for him to invest in it. I pointed out that we were in the Information Age and that practically everyone who communicated did so using digital tools. About five seconds into my response, I just changed the subject; I am not prepared to argue with the pridefully ignorant.

I have about ten other examples of this kind of insanity, but I’m sure you get the point. So, if you are willing to think about overcoming the digital divide in 2012, let’s go over a few key points.

First, and foremost, inject yourself in the process. If you want to become more digitally literate as a means of enhancing your ability to transfer the value of your intellectual property into wealth, you must dive in. How? Start by listening.

Do you have a Facebook profile? If not, go sign up now. It is extraordinarily easy. If you are daunted by the task, screw your courage to the sticking place and click this link Follow the instructions. If you can read, you can get this done in less than 10 minutes. Don’t worry about your privacy settings right now. You’re not going to do anything on Facebook today that will compromise your privacy, or open you up to identity theft. I promise.

Once you have a Facebook profile, start sending friend requests to your actual friends. Resist all temptation to make it a popularity contest – just invite people you know well. And, only friend people you know well. Once you’ve got a bunch of Facebook friends, start listening. Forget about your wall and your profile page, just watch the news feed. It will only take a few days for you to start understanding what Facebook should (and should not) be used for in your community.

Want to get more into social media? Join some groups. There are Facebook groups on almost every subject you can think of. Join, and just listen. There’s no need to post anything until you are ready.

Next, do exactly the same thing with Twitter. Set up a profile page, start following people you know and people you want to know and work with and just listen. It is the fastest way to become digitally literate in the world of social media.

If you want to interact with people on Twitter, consider replying to their Tweets instead of just Tweeting stuff out. It changes the dynamic of Twitter and will make you an instant part of the community.

The world is bifurcated. There are only two types of people and two types of devices: connected and not connected. The mantra of the pridefully ignorant is: “Digital is for kids!” If you wish to be pridefully ignorant, keep saying it. You will soon fade into complete unemployability and communicative irrelevance.

To lead a connected life, you need to be connected. This means having a smartphone and learning to use it. If you really don’t want a smartphone, get a tablet (like an iPad) or a high-end color e-reader (like the Kindle Fire) and carry it with you everywhere. You will need a device to be connected to the Internet – you can’t connect without a device, get one!

Not a smartphone, nor a tablet person? Tough! You need to be. So get with the program. The only way to make this leap is to make it.

How will you know what gear to buy? It doesn’t matter what you get as long as you get something. iPhone, Android – I don’t care. You won’t care either, at least not now. There will come a time when you will care, at that point you will make another purchase and you won’t need anyone’s advice about what it will be.

Lastly, make a New Year’s resolution to learn how to use some keyboard shortcuts and some digital productivity tools. It could be as simple as forcing yourself to use all of the Microsoft Word keyboard shortcuts for formatting, or as adventurous as installing Text Expander (Mac) or Phrase Express (PC) to enhance your word processing efficacy. Like I said, the only way to become digitally literate is to inject yourself in the process – enhanced productivity is a big step towards that commitment.

Although I was brutally attacked by a horde of pridefully ignorant technophobes in Boca Raton, I escaped. I hope you will too.



Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is Managing Director, Digital Media Group at Landmark Ventures/ShellyPalmer a technology focused Investment Banking & Advisory practice specializing in M&A, Financings, Strategic Partnerships and Innovation Access. He is Fox 5 New York's On-air Tech Expert and well known for his work on Fox Television's Shelly Palmer Digital Living as well as his daily radio report on United Stations Radio Networks. For more information, visit


  1. Eric says:

    hard to believe these folks are still out there…i do have one older friend whose life is ruined (that is, he is unemployable, and cannot be reached) because he won’t learn email. 

  2. Pwarner3 says:

    Did cliche become an adjective in the digital age? 

    • tjl says:

      Pwarner3 – maybe you need to plug in – it was an adjective long before the digital age – as in “how cliche!”

  3. Qdn212 says:

    The writer shows little knowledge himself of the worlds about which he pontificates. In professional fields (law, medicine, engineering etc.) Facebook and Twitter are risible. Social media are indiscreet, and people in real professions (as distinguished from, for example, journalism) are required to be discreet about their ideas, their personal acquaintances, their projects and often, their knowledge. So this man’s imposition of his personal social media needs on the entirety of the professional world suggests that he is the ignorant one.

    Where he does have merit is in the use of certain technologies, such as electronic “discovery” for lawyers and many other technologies for professionals, are indispensable, as is email. And people in knowledge professions all tend to take substantial advantage of them, so they don’t need this man’s advice.

    As someone who began programming computers 40 years ago and who uses technologies daily, I still see plenty of room for people who feel that checking email once or twice a day — as they always did with regular mail, is fully sufficient. People in businesses and professions where projects are going on requiring more frequent consultation will do so – they can’t avoid it and don’t need consultants to tell them otherwise. 

    This writer seems to be trying to drum up consulting fees by making people feel they need more than market pressures to tell them what they need to do. He is the naive, willfully ignorant one.

    • Mary Brace says:

      With 25 years in radio and living in a city with hordes of people in the music industry and even more who want to be, you learn that discretion is one of the greatest recognizable differences between successful people who bring the goods to the table, and those who are still trying to get a seat edged in.

      In the LinkedIn, Tweeted, Facebook world there are enough people who don’t discern the difference between the two; in the digital media world, enough content providers who don’t care as long as they gain eyeballs and clicks, that it becomes necessary to at least become part of the ongoing conversation. It sucks. We’re all working for for these sites, providing content free of charge.  But as they pull usage away from traditional media/networks it’s a necessary evil. The horse is out of the barn and there are something like 35 million people out there who will throw the greatest temper tantrum the world has ever seen upon any attempt to get it back.

  4. Bhart2341 says:

    The pride is in devices which are technological marvels. The ignorance is in their editorial content.

  5. Grandmama says:

    I love people who can so skillfully divide the world into two kinds- those who are as cool and savvy as I am, and those who are hopeless dorks.
    Actually, dear Shelly, I’m somewhere in between. I’ll never be as clever and connected as you are, but I do have a computer, do email and occasionally check Facebook to be apprised of what my friends had for breakfast, and of their latest political enlightenment. A smart phone would be lovely, but at $1200 a year? Maybe not just yet. I’ll just borrow yours, how’s that? That way you and I will both understand how much superior you are to me, and you pay the bills. That works for me.

    • Professional1821 says:

      Yes but you don’t have to own certain technologies to be educated about them. You can learn so much through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. and they are all free.
      Did you know you van download ebooks free from your public library for any computer even a sturdy old PC. Also throu most local libraries you can take computer and social media classes again for free.:) it’s good to be connected!

  6. Cps3883 says:

    If the writer thinks that being on Facebook or Twitter makes one employable, then the great unwashed in Zuccotti Square would not have been there. This is supremely moronic. I got some bad news for you pal, your narrow view of communication – and your view is narrow as you are a lemming – is typical of sizzle over steak. And if you think security and privacy are not huge elephants in the room, you should look for another gig. This self serving tome is indeed risible – as previous posters have stated and implied. If you were really prescient you would be advising people to get ready for a huge correction and move to a more spartan and utilitarian/simple and back to more private and secure environment absent the watchful eye of big brother. And I mean companies . I’ll never allow this social media horsecrap in my company’s operations. Security, privacy and confidentiality will be the cornerstone of the operation to ensure the company’s assets are protected.

    • Anonymous says:

      I just love how you made the assumption that all the Occupy folks in Zuccotti Square were unemployed.  I would venture to say that they were not.  Yes, a portion of them may have been.  But there were a considerable number of them who were employed.  Doctors, nurses, office workers, etc.

      Stop looking down your nose at anyone who doesn’t think the way you do and marches in lockstep with the Establishment.  The culture is changing, like it or not.

      • Pwarner3 says:

        If there were doctors, nurses, and office workers in the Occupy Movement the fawning media never found any of them for an interview.  Either that or these responsible, employed and educated protesters must have all been pretending to be scuzzy, stupid, illiterate, uniformed, spoiled losers. I do agree with you that the culture is changing, however, and not for the better, thanks to decades of liberal policies shoved down America’s throat by a minority aided by a tireless Big Education and Big Journalism.

        • Chris J. says:

          Pwarner3, it’s not entirely clear how your disdain of education and freedom of speech relate to Shelly’s post about the technologically illiterate. But such hateful ignorance is a travesty.

          • Pwarner3 says:

            Try reading the dumb post I was responding to.  It may become more clear to you then, but if not, enjoy your life thinking the Occupy Creeps are all about free speech, when in reality, given endless opportunities by a friendly media, they could not ever articulate what they were all about.

  7. Anonymous says:

    You have conflated “technophobes” and “Luddites” with “those of us who do not need to know every detail of everyone else’s life.”  Social networking is a tool; not a livestyle (or a life.)

    I’ll check into those sites on my schedule, not someone else’s.  In the meantime, I use my time to think.  It’s becoming a lost art.

  8. Bob C says:

    Happy New Year. I enjoy your posts.

    The bigger insight to explore from your travels is how a large group of successful professionals reject technology but remain highly productive. They have built personal connections over their careers (in an old fashioned way) but are likely masters at doing so. I observe that that many true business owners do not participate or contribute to twitter, facebook and even linked in. It may defy the logic of the digital world, but should be acknowleged. Perhaps building a strong community is more important than the technology that is used.

  9. Manfred says:

    The author derides as “insanity” the attorney’s eminently sane logic regarding e-discovery, to the extent he is referring to avoiding e-mail communications.   MANY MANY a case has gone up in flames because of the contents of an indiscreet or unfortunate e-mail, where a phone call to convey the same information would have been non-problematic.  Not to say I would recommend the approach, but to deride as “insane” is simply to reveal the author’s own ignorance.

  10. Not Chicken Little says:

    ” a hoard of pridefully ignorant technophobes…”  – perhaps the oh-so-tech-savvy and digitally smart Shelly could bother to find out the difference between “hoard” and “horde”, he could even do it with a real print and ink book called a dictionary, and they are also on-line, too…

    Personally I’ve always felt Twitter is for bird-brains – that’s why the short messages are called “tweets”, and the people who use Twitter are, of course, called “Twits”…and Facebook is just a digital heaven for stalkers and the immature who crave attention.

    • Chris J. says:

      … and ATMs are for people who are too lazy to walk into the bank
      … and the telephone is just a gadget for self-centered people who need to be heard
      … and electricity is just a fad for those who don’t know how to light a torch
      … and the abacus is only for geeky mathematicians who can’t count on their fingers

      The divide of those who embrace technology vs. those who reject it goes back to the beginning of history.

  11. This post along with Are You Employable in 2012 are two of the best posts I have read all year. I work with emerging young professionals and senior executives so I hear the gamut of excuses…my fingers are too big for the keyboard, I can’t spell, I am over 50, I don’t know what a Twitter handle is, something is wrong with my LinkedIn account, Dropbox doesn’t like me etc.
    I remind them that it’s not going away and the longer they wait to jump in, the harder it will be. I teach and coach people on how to use LinkedIn as a business tool and I have watched how people learn best…. students and young professionals just need to know “why” they need LinkedIn, they get the rest and those over a certain age want someone to show them which key to push, which step to take next. As for skills and work ethic in the 21st century…it’s different. It’s smarter not harder, today’s world plays to those who are life-long learners, curious experimenters. It’s no time to be feint of heart. Jumping in is crucial, retooling is inevitable because standing still does not get anyone very far.

    • Hattmann says:

      I agree, However when you put things out on e-mail they are there forever.  You can google my name and one of the things that comes up is a connection to a major securities lawsuit settlement between my firm and a state(I am in the financial services industry).  The reason. I was one of 85 cc’s on an e-mail that I don’t even remember seeing.  Are you ready for Anonymous to hack your credit card and make a “donation” in your name to a charity.  Definitely a problem.

      But it is important to be aware.  I have an acquaintance who is a fantastic artist.  Also she is incredibly good looking but sort of out there.  She had an interest in painting a portrait of a client of mine.  A world renowned writer.  I sent my client her name.  He came back with, “Have you seen her Facebook page.  She looks like a hooker.”  Well I said she was out there, she had put some pictures of herself in let us say various states of undress on Facebook.  I learned. 

      Interesting is that those of us in the financial services industry are forbidden to communicate our services thru linkedin and facebook.  Why? Because the Feds can’t track what we say.  Actually, our firms cant’ track what we say as required by Federal Regulations.

  12. werbaz neutron says:

    LIttle sparrows gather on tree limbs and utility wires and tweet back and forth while the Eagles and Hawks and Owls are out hunting.  Watch them swoop by at a speed that can catch any little tweeter. 

  13. Great stuff. And it happened in Boca no less! Hard to believe this conversation is still salient, but it sure is. My 83 year old dad is proof positive that tech adoption has only imaginary boundaries – the inquisitive can stay connected at any age. 

    BTW, those professionals need to embrace how much data breaches and privacy liability can affect the practices they have worked so hard to make stellar – their intransigence won’t keep a hacker from accessing their systems and absconding with their client files. 

    Keep up the good work!

  14. Richard says:

    Shelly – My walk with technology started in the 1960s. I started teaching workshops about what computers do in 1970 – mainframes to minis to micros to PDA to mobile everything. The hollow sound of the sharpest critics in the comments below and likely in Boca Raton appear to be driven what they are comfortable at this time. As you say quite clearly, there is never one size fits all. You want to participate with others who are involved, the get on the train. Otherwise, do not yell at the passengers who boarded the train as being nasty people. Have a choice means we have an opportunity to choose. Technology choices abound. So far all technology products and services have an “OFF” switch that thinking people know how to use.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The typical arrogance of an idiot. That’s the profile of most Facebook members, who think every breath they take is of critical interest to the rest of the world.  Get a real life.

    • Richard says:

      I would appreciate a link to the research about who is and who is not an idiot. Certainly there are people who look at the stars, entertainment, people, weather events and form opinions for themselves. I would not universally categorize people who have different opinions or different lifestyles as “idiots.” 7 billion people = a lot of choices for all.

      • Manfred says:

        What does facebook have to do with any of that?  Face it, facebook is for people who peaked in junior high school and would do anything to turn back that clock….

  16. Bob Finch says:

    This blog post is spot on!  What’s amazing is the “Backlash of the Luddites” it inspired. I’m making the response threads required reading for those who want to learn how “near-future unemployables” think.

    If you’re younger than about, say, 55 years old (maybe even 60) and a Google search for you comes up blank you will likely learn harshly in the last years of your working life you will have no place to work. 

    The big issue here, one that is too often left out of the discussion is this: All of the new apps, tools and devices represent a conglomeration of ideas that people have put into form. Facebook just added a new one: The Timeline. 

    The communication tools we will ALL be using in business ten years from now will all have their genesis in the component parts of tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, Tumblr and a host of others, along with the new ones being coded as I write this today. Having a practical business understanding how they work, and can be made to work in various configurations together, will be MANDATORY; that is, if you want to stay in business. 

    Why? Well, in large part it will be because the millennials will be in mid-level management and higher. Their expectations of what “work” is supposed to feel like are going to drive this. And those who act like toddlers who won’t eat their vegetables over having to employ these tools in business are going to be miserable in their final years of work. 

    There was a roughly 50-year business adoption curve for the telephone. The adoption curves for radio and television for advertising were much shorter. Now, the window for getting up to speed is a much narrower and shrinking timeline. Some if not most of the antagonized respondents in this comments thread are going to learn some VERY scary lessons in the next few years. I hate to admit it, but I look forward to seeing these those sorts struggle with customer service and brand management while the rest of the world can easily find out how awful it is to do business with them and is doing their branding for them via social media. I’ll probably be teaching crash courses and mentoring the miserable about how to get back on the clue train by then. 

    Today, I can’t imagine waiting on hold for telephone customer service with Comcast when… and I’ve tested this several times… I can get through on Twitter when I have a problem, get an answer and the answer will be right 100% of the time, and get on with my life well before I can get an answer (more often than not it’s part of a script and is wrong) by using the telephone. Comcast has its ears open and has empowered its Twitter customer service staff to reach across hierarchies and silos within the company to get fast answers.  That’s rapidly becoming my expectation of all companies if they want my business. 

    There’s a reason why we all don’t have Smith Corona or Royal branded desktop computers in our homes, and it’s inexcusable. It’s the same reason that many of these end-of-the-bell-curve adopters are going to lose their livelihoods. “Typewriter companies” refused to redefine themselves, pick up some skills and invest some R&D cash to align their brands with a new paradigm.  It’s sad.  It’s true.  And, most importantly, it’s inevitable. 

  17. girasoles2 says:

    I agree with most of the comments made here. While I understand the point you are trying to make, I believe you need to rethink your seemingly close minded view. While Facebbok may be around for a while, history has shown us that these super sites eventualy fade away or don’t continue to have the run away success they once had (think MySpace, et al.)

    Silicon Valley is always looking for the next big thing. And while right now the big thing is social media, it doesn’t mean that in the future the opposite won’t be true. A shift toward privacy and sites where individual rights for the user will be what drives the popularity of the site.

    I want to make clear that I fully embrace technology. I have an Iphone, a Twitter and a Facebook account. But I’ve also learned that these technologies, while convenient can make you a prisioner. Once in a while we need to remind ourselves that a regular phone call and face to face contact are still the only way to keep real and personal relationships thriving. I admire those who have turned away from these advances and frankly Mr.Palmer, you should show a little more respect too.

  18. Tomas says:

    You really need to get over yourself, Shelly. Not everyone is going to be as immersed in this world as you are, and to call them “Pridefully Ignorant” does nothing more than show yourself to be an intolerant boob.

    I was making web pages before you had a modem. I know all the ins and outs, the hip stuff, and the social trends. Yet, I have a flip-phone. Why? because I don’t WANT a “smart phone”. I don’t NEED a “smart phone”.

    Trend-mongers like yourself are an arrogant, self-perpetuating species, Shelly. I’ll take the ignorant over the arrogant any day.


  19. virbots says:

    Most of the time, I don’t even carry a flip phone, let alone a smart phone.

    One thing that sometimes amuses me is all the “connected people” of the world who have their heads buried in their devices and forget to (or don’t want to) look at the world around them.Sometimes it isn’t amusing but frustrating.  I was in a shopping cart traffic jam once.  No one could move, and the two people blocking everyone else had their heads buried in their devices, completely oblivious to the fact that no one could get by because of them.And from my POV, facebook is just a distraction and a waste of time.  I’ll take my productivity over a facebooker any day.

  20. RBD says:

    Keyboard shortcuts as a conclusion?  Sounds a lot like Wordperfect 5.1 (the best wordprocessing software ever) and a template pasted on the keyboard.  Digital may be the way to go, but just as “shortcuts” are the key, the current digital age of facebook and twitter are as inefficient as a graphical user interface and touch screens.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Ignorant little prick….What is it about some in this generation who think they INVENTED LIFE in its’ present form???????????
    Might I be so arrogant as to inform this little turd that it was the 50’s. 60’s and 70’s generation which INVENTED all this ‘ginchy’ stuff so that this little Hitler could read a manual and follow instructions from another, more intelligent mind….After all, WE did the inventing and HE just follows instructions.What a little turd…his momma needs to slap his silly face.

  22. Guest says:

    Shelly Palmer seems to be the real pridefully ignorant person in the article. What a jerk.

  23. Shelly Kozel says:

    Thank you. As an over 65 year old insurance agent, it is imperative for me to keep up with technology. I only wish many of my clients / friends/relatives did the same.
    I have one insuarnce agent friend who 20 years ago said he would deal with anyone who didn’t have a fax machine. About 6 years ago, he changed & made a decision not to deal with anyone who doesn’t use email. I believe he is correct in his decision. Thanks for showing the seniors the light.
    Shelly Kozel

  24. Infamouslefty says:

    Shelly is a provocative individual and I’d have a hard time believing he’s surprised by any of the vitriolic reactions he’s received below. I’ll even predict and upcoming column about people’s reaction to the column.  For me the bottom line is that the technology is here to stay.  So trying to dismiss or avoid it is misguided. 
    HOWEVER, that all being said, I do think we need to have balance in our lives.  You need to be digitally savvy for sure but you also need to appreciate the value of taking time to be digitally disconnected as well.  The attached column by Pico Iyer from this Sunday’s NY Times makes a good case for disconnection.  To be clear, I agree with both Shelly Palmer and Pico Iyer. It’s about balance.

  25. Sixpounder says:

    All columnists receive a certain amount of vicious feedback. Unfortunately, rude and crude commentary has become standard for internet discourse, but this Shelly Palmer fellow is begging for it!

    Facebook’s interface sucks like a Hoover. For image sharing, it is pathetically inferior to Flickr and Picassa; for  sharing information, it’s lame compared to Twitter. Facebook’s limited value is for most users is not worth the exposure to security risks. Worst of all are the outrageous liberties this unscrupulous corporation has taken with its members’ information. Palmer’s claim that anyone who shuns Facebook is a neo-Luddite is shallow bee-ess.

  26. Raider2119 says:

    Shelly, there is a balance to be maintained in the digital realm.  Trying to embrace every possible aspect is something reserved solely for geeks such as yourself…  In my own life I am an IT professional that prefers to go offline during my non working hours.  I carry a smartphone, but would rather go back to my old flip phone that just made phone calls.  I am a recovering Facebook addict, and back in the day I would have been the first in line to beta test every bad idea that didn’t work the way it was supposed to.

    So, while I get frustrated with those Luddites that refuse to even embrace the smallest and most useful portions of the digital revolution, I am equally frustrated at your position that we must embrace it all…..   

  27. Just Do It says:

    You had me at how many of these folks have their assistants print out their emails. Heaven help us and the environment too.

  28. Professional1821 says:

    I love that phrase “pridefully ignorant”….it’s really just people hiding their embarrassment by stating they don’t care about technology when they’re just overwhelmed.

  29. Edwardbturner9 says:

    Your column reminds me of Three Dog Night…a great band, but alas one that never wrote any of their 20+ hits.
    In other words, might I suggest that you stick to their formula of sharing the great things that you do from others rather than giving advice that shows just how brainwashed you are.

    Yes to e-mail, Facebook, and general computer skills of course for everyone. But I draw the line of lugging around an iPad when that device was bought by and for ME and my use, not for others to contact and hound me for things that can wait.

    Yes, I will even agree to the new Smartphones, but again, at my discretion only.
    There’s this thing called patience…and waiting, that makes info have value. You are one of many who have reinvented the term “teenage wasteland:” An entire generation that will never know the joy of learning to wait for something.since they can have it yesterday.

    Shelly, might I suggest a digital pacifier for a late Christmas present. It will even e-mail and tweet you when it’s time to take it out…and remind you to smile too. Sounds like you’ll need the false and disposable interaction that only a person who was undoubtedly called “Smelly” as a child truly thinks that they need. It’s time to react, Shelly. There’s your reminder. Tweet tweet!



  30. Senor Poopypantz says:

    Blah, blah, blah. I find this piece, with its (perhaps unintentional) tone of arrogance, reveals that you’ve been living in your own bubble for way too long. Consume! Connect! Where is the balance, or even the slightest recognition that a digital lifestyle, if not carefully managed, can rob us of other equally important opportunities in life?
    Frankly, I got a lot more work done before I got a Facebook account and a smartphone. In many ways, I envy the ‘pridefully ignorant’  for their ability to disengage from the deafening inanity of social media.

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