Digital Disabilities of the Elderly

I am a senior! No, you don’t have to commiserate with me. I am quite happy – and lucky too. After all, aging is the “in-thing”. Aging is chic. It is even a growth industry. There are lurking legions of caretakers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, intercessors and lobbyists out there, just panting for me to ask for their “help”. I don’t even have to ask.

This development is particularly insidious, when it comes to activities and ventures such as the new media that did not exist fifty years ago. After all, it was our and previous generations who created the foundations for those media. Still, we are being identified as living fossils.

Sometimes, they ask us about our experiences, views and opinions. Sometimes, they even listen, particularly, if our responses harmonize with their canons and theories.

It reminds me a bit of black liberation in the 60’s and women’s assimilation in the 70’s. There is a difference, though. We seniors have been youngsters once, and, occasionally, we remember. The reverse does not hold.

I agree: things are different. No, I haven’t changed. The world around me has changed. My world has changed. I have episodes where I remember my young adulthood. The world was mine oyster, wide, open and full of opportunities. Risks were negligible; hurdles were there to be jumped, walls to be broached, rivers and oceans to be crossed. True, I didn’t have any money. But if I did, I would have invested it with abandon in all kind of risky ventures.

Over the subsequent fifty years or so, I have collected experience. The world has closed in around me. Accidents do happen, hurdles topple, walls cause bruises, you can drown in rivers and oceans, businesses fail. Liars, cheaters, thieves and robbers are waiting in the wings. Now, I do have some money. It is safely invested for a rainy day.

It is not just loss of ability, strength, aggression and power. It is also a growing loss of confidence in my own autonomy. I have become aware of my limitations. If I act differently today than sixty years ago, it is not necessarily that I can’t do it; it is that I don’t trust that I can.

I can type, e-mail and blog. I can create web sites and databases. I write my own software. But I don’t Twitter nor venture on Facebook. The social media are beyond the scope of my shrunken world. Digital disabilities of the elderly are as much affective in nature, as they are due to cognitive, perceptive or motor losses.

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2 Responses to Digital Disabilities of the Elderly

  1. me says:

    Thought you might find this report about Wikipedia contributors interesting: http://www.wikipediasurvey.org/docs/Wikipedia_Overview_15March2010-FINAL.pdf

    • papa says:

      Over fifty years ago Darrel Huff published a book “How to Lie with Statistics”. It is still highly relevant today! The only valid inference of the wikipedia report is that the demographic profile published reflects on people, willing to respond to a lengthy questionnaire among wikipedia users.

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