A few years ago, we bought my grandmother a simple flip-phone. She halfheartedly tried to use it – she put in five contacts and would acknowledge that she got our call by calling us back on her house phone. But after a while (like 5 days), the plain phone was condemned to live the remainder of its days in a drawer next to Dollar Store reading glasses, old checkbooks and other things old people have in drawers.
But the death of my grandmother’s flip-phone wasn’t stubbornness or an inability to adapt to the times, it was our fault. One, we decided it would be good to give an 89-year-old with macular degeneration a tiny screen with bright numbers. Two, she didn’t need it. All of her friends lived down the hall, she had a house phone to call her family, and it’s not like she was ordering Papa John’s. So why did we force technology on her that she didn’t need?
Because it was our technology. But we are different than the dependable Depends-wearers. And they need different technology to address their unique problems. And instead of recognizing this, we decide to laugh at our grandparents when they ask what “Instagrim” is.
There are a lot of reasons why the I Love Lucy generation hasn’t embraced the new era of mass media with shaky arms. But the biggest reason is that the 20- and 30- year olds at the face of technological advancement have written the elderly population off. So our grandparents don’t care about technology because it’s not made for them.
At 21, I’m spritely, youthful and not about to keel over, so I can’t speak for the older generation as to what exactly they need. But I want this class to be about how mass media, technology and the culture of information can evolve to meet the needs of every member of our society, not just the ones making it.
Here is a stock photo of old people doing thumbs up: