Silver Surfers: Getting to grips with technology

Posted on by Mike Evans

As the years creep along I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that I must now be one of those Silver Surfers that you keep hearing about. It set me thinking about the differing attitudes of the older generation towards modern technology.


An ex-colleague takes a kind of sad pride in her complete ignorance of the whole world of technology.  Way back, when we used to work together she refused to get the hang of her video-recorder (remember those?) and missed all sorts of favourite TV programmes.  The last time we were chatting over lunch she commented wearily, “They keep sending me offers of free broadband and I don’t even know what broadband is.”


Conversely, another lovely old friend of mine is 86, enjoys online browsing and sending emails and is just about to purchase an iPad. It seems that some people embrace technology along with  its life-enhancing advantages,  while others hope that if they keep their heads in the sand, it will all go away.


Last week I overheard a group of bus-riding pensioners grumbling.  One of them was bemoaning the fact that he could no longer queue up at the post office to collect his state pension.  Instead, it went into his bank account. He had travelled to town to draw out some cash, just got to the point of keying in his pin number, when his mind went blank and he couldn’t remember it.


He had to get back on the bus and go home to try and find it.  This story prompted an outbreak of techno-rage amongst the group. They were furious that it was nearly impossible to live these days without a bank account, voiced bitter complaints about the switchover to digital TV and sighed with nostalgia for the good old pre-computer days.


One old dear described how she tried to pay a bill on the telephone, but couldn’t get a proper response from the voice at the other end.  On realising tht she was talking to a computer she panicked and put the phone down.  Whatever would she make of Siri?


At the risk of sounding smug, it makes me glad that I moved with the times and absorbed the advances in technology as they occurred.  It seems that once you get left behind, the process of trying to catch up becomes ever more daunting.


I fully understand that getting to grips with new ideas can be hard work, but the benefits more than compensate for the difficulties. It is definitely worth the effort. Strangely, though, the iPad is almost doing the job for us. I have realised that older people look at an iPad and no not think of it as a computer. It’s something for reading, prodding and, even, sending emails. But it isn’t one of those nasty, difficult computers.

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