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The article below is based on the transcript, but heavily edited for readability.
You’re never too old
Recently, I surveyed my readers about their biggest obstacles to using technology. Many respondents used the phrase “I’m old” as some kind of excuse for not understanding something, or not feeling ready to do or learn something.
Personally, I find that sad.
My perspective is that technology presents us with tremendous opportunity if we are willing to take advantage of it. It doesn’t really matter how old you are. In fact, I think technology can play a very big role in staying young.
Except, of course, when people throw it out by erroneously thinking that they are already too old.
I regularly hear from folks in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s1 who are having a great time with technology. They use it to do things their children or grandchildren never imagined coming from Grandma or Grandpa, and certainly that other folks their age can’t quite comprehend. Digital photos, Facebook, Skype, and more: they’re doing all of these fun things to connect, share, and communicate.
Because in a lot of ways, that’s what a lot of the internet and technology is all about: connecting with other people.
You know the old adage, “You’re as young as you feel”? Clearly, these 70-, 80-, and 90-year-olds that I hear from who are having fun with technology are young on the inside. They’re enjoying this. They’re using it as an opportunity to learn and connect.
Ultimately, I consider the number of years that you happen to have been on the planet pretty irrelevant. I know some folks in their 30’s and 40’s, or even younger, who are ancient on the inside. They just aren’t interested in understanding or taking advantage of what’s right in front of them. That’s old. Like I said, downright ancient.
Admittedly, there are lots of things that can get in the way of technology working, but it has nothing to do with your age. It has to do with the technology, not whether or not you can get your brain around it. You can.
There’s plenty of examples of folks doing exactly that. I think it’s awesome if you’ve got a lot of years behind you, because that’s pretty significant, but it has nothing to do with whether or not you should feel like you’re incapable of doing something with technology.
I know you can; I see it all the time. Yep, I see it from people who are convinced they can’t, and you know what, 99 times out of 100, they are absolutely wrong. They can. And if they give themselves a chance, they have a great time with it and reap the benefits.
I often hear from people who make that leap, and like I said, it’s pretty rewarding. It’s one of the reasons I do what I do, and it’s one of the things that really makes what I do a lot of fun.
The most touching emails I’ve received have been from folks in their 80’s and 90’s who have said, “Yep, you made the difference. You helped me connect; you helped me solve a problem.”
That’s just wonderful. That really, really makes what I do worthwhile.
You know, I may get old on the outside. In fact, I hope I do; I hope this body lasts a long time and is around for many years to come, but what I really hope is that on the inside, I’ll be a kid forever. Being amazed and in wonder at all of the technology around us, that’s me—a kid in the candy store. I’m having fun with this stuff.
I feel it every day! It’s fun. It’s stuff I want to share with you, and I want you to share in that amazement and wonder as well.
That’s why answers to your tech questions can help move you along. It’s not your fault. I think technology should be easier for everyone, regardless of their age. I really want everyone to be able to participate in everything technology has brought to us. It can add a tremendous amount to your life.
Imagine the amount of connectedness you can have with other people when you’ve got the technology in front of you to do that. I’m connected with people on the other side of the planet on a regular basis—something that we never would have thought possible, not many years ago.
People are connecting with their families in disparate regions. Shut-ins are no longer shut in, because they have this window to the world sitting on their desk. There are so many opportunities that I’m really, really distressed when people think they’re too old to take advantage of it all.
In fact, if you’ve reached an advanced age and you have perhaps some other issues preventing you from participating more fully in life, guess what? The laptop on your desk, the desktop computer, the tablet, whatever, it’s a window into a larger world that I really, really want you all to be able to partake in.
So, that’s my lesson today: please don’t think of yourself as too old. You’re not.
Whenever I talk about age and age-related issues with respect to technology, I always envision somebody at the other end saying, “Well, you just wait until you get older.”
On the outside, I will get older. On the inside, I hope I never do, because I have this inner wonder and interest, this inner ability to say, “You know what, let’s learn something new today”, that not only keeps me interested and keeps things fun, but will help keep me young and keep me vibrant on the inside, no matter what happens to this shell on the outside.
I hope the same for you. I really want you to feel like you are capable of doing anything you want to with the technology you have in front of you, because you know what?
- Embracing the Most Important Attitude There is one approach to life, one setting in our psyche, that will affect your experience with technology much more than any lack of skill or knowledge.
- Don’t call yourself stupid I hear regularly from people who call themselves “dumb” or “stupid” when it comes to computers. There’s little that frustrates me more.