Seniors in the 21st Century
The question hangs: Why are younger generations—baby boomer, Gen X, Gen Y, etc.—sophisticated in the use of technology. Why is it that my children and grandchildren can pick up any hand-held device and demonstrate with assurance and agility all the features, and recite comparisons of brand names with the respective reputations, price comparisons and dates of upgrades. One of my children recently displayed her “Droid,” demonstrating the features of email, web searches, computation abilities, scheduling and calendar features, and—oh yes—phone calls and messaging. And texting of course. After fifteen minutes my husband and I were exhausted.
Why is this, I have wondered. Why is it so hard for us to learn these things while our children and grandchildren whip through tasks that take us hours. I recently spent a whole afternoon learning how to create a gravatar. I was so proud. And then I tried to find that word in the dictionary. The closest definition was avatar—an embodiment of a concept or philosophy, often in a person. I thought of a movie that was popular a few years ago—the one with the blue people who could fly. The name of the movie was Avatar. The worst of it is that I cannot for the life of me remember how I managed to create my gravatar, even if it isn’t a real word.
Reassurance is found in the words of my web designer when she says that I am more adept than her mother. But then I have never met her mother. No one can say that my husband and I don’t try, however. My husband’s excuse for slow learning curve is brain cancer. His road back from total loss of memory has been remarkable—rather like picking up bricks from a toppled building and reconstructing the structure. But that’s another story—another blog post. In the meantime you can find that story on pages 99-103 in A Caregiver’s Story featured on this web site.
My excuse? The excuses of others of my generation for reluctance or inability to keep up with the latest in technological advances of the vast array of hand held devices, desk top or lap top computers, and cameras run the gamut from overloaded brains to under funded budgets. Living on a fixed income precludes keeping up with the latest and greatest of many electronic items such as cell phones that in recent years have morphed into Droids or Androids.
Overloaded brains. Do you think I’m kidding? My husband and I were children whenPearl Harborwas bombed. We were raising our own children when our soldiers were dying inVietnam. Four of our grandsons are of draft age should a draft come along. In all those years, we accumulated information that is now outdated but is stored in long term memory. Short term memory sometimes falls short for some reason, such as my experience with the gravatar.
I take comfort in the fact that I can tell you the dates of the invasion of Midway (May-June 1942) and its importance in the victory overJapan’s navy. I can tell you why Jimmy Doolittle got up a unit of courageous pilots to bombTokyoApril 18 1942. But creating another gravatar—not likely.
This brings us to the last reason for our incompetence—pure laziness. Maybe seasoned with a bit of stubbornness. Why try to stuff our brains with extraneous facts when we can center on the things that mean the most to our daily lives. Senior citizens that I know pick and choose which aspect of 21st century living holds the most appeal before we try to master it. I didn’t realize how far society had advanced, however, until the day our Internet provider suffered a large blackout, forcing us into a cyber isolation.