I hold to the view that one of the markers of advancing age is a gradual but inevitable disconnect from advances in modern technology. We grow up gleefully embracing them until we reach adulthood – enjoy a period of ten to fifteen years when we are pretty much ‘up to date’ – and then gradually, perhaps individually at differing speeds, we fall off the pace.
It’s a symptom of the human condition, rather like age perception.
Winston Churchill once described the period between the ages of twenty-two to twenty-five as the best in life. I still think of myself as aged about twenty-five maximum, albeit now cruelly housed within the decaying husk of a sixty-something body.
Technology has never been my forte, so it’s hardly surprising that my relationship with laptops, iPads, smartphones … and now ‘phablets’ [as I understand it, a cross between a phone and a tablet computer] … have been tortuous. What I cannot grasp is why the bloody things won’t do what you want them to do.
For good or ill – in my case I’m sure it’s for the good – the world of social media has passed me by.
I once had a personal Twitter account, when friends – not my kids, of course – said I should acquire one because tweeting was such addictive fun.
For a couple of months, I began informing the world that I was standing on a station platform awaiting a train that was two minutes late, or providing the latest score in some game I was attending, before I came to realise that it was all pointless. I think this occurred around about the time I realised that Stephen Fry had approximately 6.5 million more followers than I did [at that time 11, i.e. 8 friends or family, plus 3 lunatics who were completely unknown to me]. I therefore killed my account and immediately felt both relieved and better.
Having kids accelerates your appreciation of tempus fugit because, of course, they go through their own process of ‘growing up’ and, in doing so, remind you of the generation gap you inadvertently self-created.
Life – and progress – is irreversible, even when you don’t understand, or perhaps even like, the advances being made. My daughter, for example, met her current partner via an online dating site. When she told me this, I was horrified – surely dating websites were the refuge of saddos and paedophiles?
“No, Dad, we’re all so busy these days that it’s by far the best way to meet new people …”
Five or so years ago, I wondered aloud whether I shouldn’t join Facebook, simply in order to keep in touch with her news. “Absolutely not …” came the reply, “… You’re far better off operating on a ‘need to know’ basis only”.
I took her point.
There some aspects of your offsprings’ lives that you wouldn’t want to know – just as my habits of ‘Dad dancing’ and listing my latest (i.e. six or seven years out of date) young female celebrity crushes to anyone who will listen, send them reaching for the proverbial sick bag.
Just occasionally, however, one spots a media report that gives we oldies a quiet sense of satisfaction and comfort as we fade away.
Here’s one that appears today on the website of THE INDEPENDENT