I had lunch with some old friends yesterday in their garden on a lovely sunny day. As we are all in our dotage it was a bit surprising that during the lunch the conversation should turn to technology and computer use.
What was perhaps less surprising was that
the ladies – although all computer literate – were also the least interested in keeping up with the untold new ways of using new technology or making use of the social media.
Yet we all depend on technology for entertainment and communication any which way you look at it. TVs, tape and disc players and recorders, set top boxes of one kind or another, computers, tablets, phones, eReaders, portable players, and radio, and all require knowledge to operate them.
Without these devices many homebound seniors would face isolation and depression, and we probably all know someone whose life has changed dramatically because a piece of technology has given that person a new lease on life.
My friends pointed to the general dread of yet another upgrade of the various softwares they use, another new model, another smarter, bigger, more powerful – and – more complex piece of equipment to learn the use of.
Why, was the cry, did we have to lose the public phones, and why can we longer get to speak to a human on the phone when calling a corporate outfit, and when we do, why does it have to be so difficult to understand them. So perhaps it was not unexpected that the question: “What in the hell does Twitter do?” should arise.
Are we afraid of technology? Maybe not, maybe we are just afraid of getting old. And there is the worry of the endless onslaught of gizmos and gadgets even if we wouldn’t be without the telephone or the radio and most likely the TV neither, all invented by very young people, just like Facebook and Twitter, inventions that changed the world and how we live and communicate.
Like some of my friends you may say it is just for young people, and you are right in one sense, these things were created by the young for the young. They love gizmos and they love acronym-laden, cool stuff.
Why is it so easy for them and so much harder for us? Because children from infancy gain skills in manipulating object in their environment, think how they so quickly learn to stuff everything they come across into their mouths, and from there they expand their skills for exploration using whatever skill already obtained.
Once they reach our age they still respond to new technology in a similar way, that is, doing what they already know or simply not recognizing the difference, and as a result often get it completely wrong. I am reminded here of a recent very funny advert from Germany where Granddad has been given a new iPad for Christmas and is using it not exactly as intended, but what he sees as a perfectly natural use. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itUMO7VLl0M [take no notice of it being in German].
Another friend still uses the rolodex when using the mobile phone to call, even though the phone has a directory, our adaptation of new things has slowed.
We have to learn a lot of new skills, just changing batteries in all the gadgets from remotes to cameras or recharging the mobile phone to accommodate our desire to look as if we know what we are doing let alone making good use of the technology available to us can be a stretch, and to adapt to a mind-set that actually welcomes the new and often absurd things that the young ones take for granted in an ever changing environment does take a bit of courage and flexibility.
Do we need to adapt or is it ok to calcify? Put it this way: Every new generation start by building on what went before, new innovations, new perspectives, new acronyms. Whether it is Facebook or Twitter, a new kind of computing or communication or technology device, they all have made someone’s life easier, more interesting and more fulfilling in one way or another, and we of our generation by buying into and adapting to them will make our own lives richer.
Technology does make sense, it has made so many thing simpler and easier and better than before, so forget we are getting old, drat it, join SeniorNet and feel the magic.