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Old People and Technology

Posted by: the_merchant




The world has changed more in the last few decades than ever before, and it continues to change faster still. For many, this pace is way too fast. If you’re reading this, chances are you don’t fall into this category. For many others though, things like videogames, social networking and the internet are a complete mystery.

For the current generation, who grew up in this time of rapid technological advances, the pace is just fine. In fact, many of us look forward to the next big technological advances. This is evidenced by the massive uptake of things like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. The older generation seems to have been left behind though, and thus their attitude towards technology is generally negative.

So why exactly has the older generation been left behind? Is it the rapid pace, or could it be a rejection of technology? While it is certainly some combination of these factors, it seems to be more of the latter. There have been many instances where members of this older generation have criticised things like Facebook, mobile phones, video games and even the internet. While these things do have some negative aspects, the older generation condemns and criticises what it does not understand. It is almost as though they are looking for reasons to be against these things; desperately clinging to any negative aspects and refusing to learn more about what they actually are. They seem to forget that “technology” does not exclusively consist of electronics.

There seems to be a misconception amongst this generation as to what “technology” actually is. A radio is technology. A hammer is technology. Heck, when man first discovered the wheel; that is technology too. Part of the problem with current advancements is that they’re very abstract. One cannot see the internet, for example. For those of us who have grown up with the internet, this isn’t really an issue. If it isn’t really an issue for us though, then why bother with this whole idea in the first place?

It is said that those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it. The scary thing is that this has happened before, and it will likely happen again. When things like radio and television first came out, what were the reactions of the older generations of the time? The older generation had similar reactions at the advent of the automobile.

We are the future older generation. So one day when our grandchildren want to go on holiday in space, or want biotic implants, will we be a more understanding older generation; or will we be left behind,  continuing the cycle and be doomed to condemn that which we do not understand?


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Comments (6)Add Comment
written by Jawellnofine, June 01, 2011
The article's expounded precept is interesting if not a bit one-sided.

Change is something that humans do not take to. Change is always vehemently opposed before it is eventually accepted. Then it becomes a way of life to which one wonders as to ‘what did we do before such-and-such was developed.’

Thus it is not technology per se that is the problem, but the resistance to change.

As for the viability of the technological future, only time will tell.
written by the_merchant, June 01, 2011
That whole concept of change and resistance to it is what I was hoping people would take from this post, as well as; and perhaps more importantly; how we will respond to the next big change. How do you guys think you'd respond to the next big change?
written by CaptainA, August 21, 2011
Maybe the old-timers know something about how technology has affected us that we don't. To honestly gauge how technology has affected us would be very difficult. Maybe there's just something about how times and people have changed that the old-timers don't like.

Let's face it, we don't know too much about how life was before all these technological advacenments either. Even though they may not be entirely right they may have a strong point.
written by Dissol, August 21, 2011
I am not sure I agree with the post. There was a report last year that the number of females over 55 in the US signing up to Facebook was the fastest growing segment (up 175% in 120 days). I use Skype to talk to several family members and friends over 60. I am a contributer to a specific blog, and the majority of respondants are over 45. Indeed, I think "old-timers" appreciate the technology much more than the "lighties" of today, as we know what it was to live without the internet, cell phones, etc. For me, one of the most remarkable aspects of living in the modern world is having a car that always starts, on the first turn of the key! I remember having an old Land Rover at Uni which we had to start with a crank handle as I could not afford a new battery...before that I had a mini van, which I could push start on my own... Central locking? That mini didn't even have wind down windows, but rather half the wondow would slide behind the other... The door "handles" were a piece of wire stretched across the door...and that is how it came from the factory!
written by the_merchant, August 21, 2011
Its certainly not all older people who tend to be against technology. There are indeed many who fully embrace it. After all, it wouldn't have taken off the way it has had there not been so many people fully embracing it. The point I'm making though, is that of the people who reject it, its usually older people. It is certainly this way in my family, which is what drove me to write this article in the first place. @Dissol, the same way you've just described the good old days where you had to start your Land Rover with a crank handle, most older people reminisce over the days when things were "better" (read: simpler). As soon as something doesn't work, they're quick to blame technology. They condemn that which they do not understand.
written by CaptainA, August 22, 2011
@ Dissol, Good point.

@ Merchant, adaptability and pliability does tend to decrease over time. We tend to cement alot of the ways of thinking and doing things that we develop in the first ten years of our lives without even realizing it.

@ everybody else. What I was also trying to highlight was that society has become more fast-paced, more highly strung and we suffer from a greater sense of isolation in general. And 'technology' or rather the way in which we make use of modern technological means has contributed to this significantly.

I suppose alot the older generation have experienced and been aware of this change in a way which the "lighties" can't really appreciate. Although they are quick to find counter-arguements. Perhaps the yonger generation too are quick to condemn certain elements of a (forgotten)lifestyle which they do not understand.

The older generations generally tend to find it very difficult to articulate how our values and ideals have changed and certainly why they have changed but I have to say that they probably understand it very well. (And this is probably the most frustrating part)

Perhaps it is what is coming from the technology, perhaps it how we use it or just generally how we view it as a part of our lives but certainly, society has changed alot and perhaps the old-timers have a point when some of them say that technology may be a double edged sword.

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