Technology Is Changing Old People

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When you see an 81 years old man on Facebook at 5AM in the morning, you either think you are dreaming or finally understanding why this company has a market capitalisation of $150B. The ability to understand social media and in particular the internet, if you come from an old generation and you haven’t been interested in technology, is not easy, but nothing is impossible. Even if that man doesn’t have a clue of what he’s doing, he’s still able to Skype people, send messages and also tweet.

Technology and websites have been built in the simplest way to make them accessible to everyone. It’s not true when we hear old people saying that’s too difficult. When people face the possibilities they have, if they use technology, that lack of interests suddenly disappears and excitement comes along. It just takes five minutes to explain that if they start using the internet, we are able to connect wherever we are, whenever we want.

That’s what my 81 grandfather did by starting using a laptop in his eighties. The inability to communicate with me in a physical way has brought him on the web. I don’t think he realises what he does on Facebook, but as it was for us at the beginning, the internet is just a matter of experimenting and remembering from what we have already tried. He was able to connect with friends from his childhood that he hadn’t seen in more than thirty years.

This proves two things. The internet is for everyone, no matter who you are or how old you think you are. The power behind it is immense. When I started introducing to my grandfather the concept of Wikipedia and Youtube, the reaction was something close to “is this true?”. Yes, it is and that’s why we are going to live on the internet. The shared knowledge we are creating is invaluable and the more people we get on board the more stories and experiences we’ll be able to learn.

On the other hand my 74 years old grandmother has just started. I met her yesterday and she told me she had checked her blood test results from her iPad. I firstly thought “what’s going on?”, but then realised that her birthday present was a Galaxy Tab. Even in this case, she didn’t have a clue of how to read the results and when I later told her that she had to open an attachment, she asked me what an attachment was even if she previously did it.

The truth is that Tablets, thanks to notifications, have become extremely easy and if you haven’t bought one for you grandmother or grandfather, it’s time to do it. Although my grandmother doesn’t even know what an email address is, she followed the notification, checked her inbox, moved to the email and clicked on the pdf file at the bottom of the message. We are talking about someone who got her first Tv when she was 20 years old.

Technology has changed everything. The easier it becomes to connect to the internet, the more people will be able to keep in touch for a lifetime. The era of meeting someone and never hearing back is gone. People who haven’t been part of this revolution can still join. What they need is interest, because these things can be learned at any age, there is nothing that can stop them. If they are motivated and they also have a need to do it, such as in the previous cases, they will do it, slowly, but they will.

The next big step is to connect the people who can’t even access the internet, but that’s another story.

Edoardo Moreni

Blogger, Political Activist, Computer Scientist and Italian.