“We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.”
― Douglas Adams
"You have so much to say, mom", my daughter would insist. Well, that much is certainly true, but whether anyone wants to hear it is another story entirely (take my daughter for instance). "And you have so much to share", again, she was right. But I'm still left wondering who will actually be interested in my random musings.
But the thing that got me seriously considering it is the last time I was at the hairdressers. My hairdresser is a bit older than me but looking a lot younger (all those fab hair products at her fingertips!) - and it so happened that the client and hairdresser in the chair beside me also fell into the ''older adult' category. Over the course of my cut and my chair neighbour's colour we got to chatting. About kids. The disappointments and the successes. About grandkids (or lack thereof). The joy. The frustrations. About spouses (or lack there of), and health.
And then it got really interesting. We started talking about technology. My chair neighbour uses Facebook a lot to connect with friends, but was getting frustrated with how superficial it all was becoming. "It's like everyone just posts inspirational sayings and pictures of their grandkids, enough already." She wanted to feel more connected, to learn more about things that mattered. I suggested Twitter and all three of them (the hairdressers included) fell silent. They didn't know anything about it. My hairdresser said that she had looked into it some time ago in an attempt to connect with her son who worked for a news agency, but she never got past the sign-up page. I told them about my experiences with Twitter. News at my fingertips. Relevant, grassroots, feet-on-the-ground type of news. Unique access to relevant information. New opinions. They were all intrigued. I promised my hairdresser I would send her an email on how to dip your toe into the world of Twitter and she promised to share it with her colleague and my chair neighbour.
From there the conversation continued on to other tech topics. My chair neighbour (Patricia) has a daughter in university and two sons who live in the states. "I never hear from them," she complained. "I call but they never answer, and god forbid if they ever return my emails." I asked Patricia if she had tried texting her kids. "Isn't that the same as email?" she asked. I explained the difference and told her that nobody under the age of 40 emails any more. And they certainly don't talk on the phone. Text them. Snapchat them. Or (maybe) FaceTime them. "You're talking a foreign language to me," Patricia said and that got me thinking some more.
On the walk home - and looking like a million bucks I might add - I got to thinking about what my daughter said. I have a lot to share. And it seems I do. After years of working in and around technology I know enough about the world to wade through with some level of confidence. But at the same time I grew up without the internet and am surrounded by friends that didn't work in technology, and now feel completely overwhelmed in this digital world. These are friends that aren't that old.
With more seniors having access to technology and free time on their hands, there should be many more tech-savvy retirees out there. But the digital world has raced by us. We barely got the hang of our flip phones and then there were smart phones. The world wide web turned into Web 2.0. Virtual reality, drones, Netflix, Amazon Prime, social media... the list goes on and on with new things on the market and new things to learn. How is anyone supposed to keep up? Especially those of us who grew up without the internet or had successful careers that didn't involve sitting in front of a screen?
Technology is a great tool for everyone, but I think especially for older adults who want to stay engaged with things they love. Connect with people they love. Make new connections and explore new things. The ways that technology can enrich our lives is truly mind-blowing. But we need to get there. We need to stop being intimidated and start trying it.
So by the time I got home I had decided. I would start a blog. I would write down my personal thoughts and experiences for anyone who happened to be interested. But I would do it with a technology angle. Specifically for seniors. What are all these new digital terms and devices, but more importantly how we can use them to enrich our lives.
I was so excited about my decision to become a blogger I called my daughter to tell her. I got her voice mail.