Those We Left Behind
Those we left behind
There's a generational treadmill that most people are never really aware of. The average (and yeah yeah, I know there's no real average) person considers their age a fixed quantity, specific to them and their sense of identity. But reality's quite different.
At any given time there are people your age, younger, older, being born, and dying.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in marketing and media. Old news stories are run as new ones every few years, movies are 'rebooted', and new methods of separating a fool from their money are implemented. These are seemingly always being updated but the truth is, it's the same serving being offered to the next generation (in new hip packaging), and the next over and over again.
It would initially seem this personal pigeon holing of one's own perception of age is due to a denial of the inevitable: death. But in all reality, there's a bit more involved.
You Will Be Replaced
As one generation drops out of the workforce a new generation becomes ascendant. Those of the older generation who try to stay in the workforce soon find they have less opportunities and are passed up for promotions more and more often. Those who have left the workforce find friends and family members communicating in ways they personally don't understand. We are also beginning to see the rise of a new workforce, that of automation. The automated synthetic workforce is just around the corner. Robots have been used for years, and although companies insist they would never replace organic workers with plastic and steel ones, think of those profits. Soon it won’t just be ageism limiting opportunities, it’ll be speciesism. This is just one more reason to deal with these issues now, before it’s too late.
They Are Our Memory
In other times, in other cultures the elderly were looked upon as the caretakers of knowledge. Not so much anymore. What is being lost? Yes, we do have a world of information available to us through the world wide net, yet each day that passes, that knowledge is more and more inaccessible, taking longer web searches to delve out information from the advertisements and opinion pieces masquerading as truth. Many are waylaid by these deceptions, especially the young and the elderly. There have been times in our history when such deceit was considered criminal. Now it is considered opportunity.
What Can We Do About It and What Should We Do About It
Speak with that elderly neighbor whose yard everyone else complains about. See if they prefer it like that or if they just can’t keep up with it. Make the time to help them out, listen to the stories of their lives, really listen. Go to the local nursing home and talk to the inmates, I mean residents. Let them know that they’re not alone and you’ll be back. Bring friends and family members to explore the vast richness of stories and lives all of the residents have experienced. Soon you’ll find this is so much more rewarding than being up to date on the newest happenings in tv land or social media, the lessons you’ll garner from others experiences more than makes up for any tv time lost or social media posts missed. Make sure not to take out your phone when you’re doing this. Not only is that rude (even though it happens more and more often) it tells the person you are speaking with that they are less important than your electronic toy, at least from their point of view.
By taking action in the physical world you’ll find yourself making a lasting impact rather than puffing smoke into the digital domain.
Once you’ve acclimated yourself to slowing down and taking time with the elderly you’ll be able to learn whether or not they are interested at all in technology. I discovered my Grandmother had a strong affinity for Wii Sports, particularly bowling, after I took the time to show her every step in the process. I let her know that it was perfectly safe to have a computer in her room and that even though she had a file box of important documents next to the computer, it was impossible for anyone to access those files through the computer. Things those of us just ‘know’ about technology cannot be assumed to be understood by those of us with no experience using such devices, so we teach. Grandmother ended up only using her computer for the most rudimentary of tasks. To her, a computer was only used for work since thirty years earlier that was their main role. We made social media a family time when Grandmother, my daughter, and I would all gather around the computer and catch up on everything the rest of the family was doing. Without even realizing it at the time, my daughter was herself learning to be patient and supportive of her Great Grandmother as together we navigated systems which had previously been mysterious to her.
These lessons are carried and shared by all of us throughout our lives, benefiting everyone we come into contact with in ways we may not discern at the moment.
In this hurry and bustle world (that’s it’s always been) we often forget the importance of slowing down to look around and see precisely where we are, as well as those around us. Too often we get stuck in autopilot and forget to see that reality is made up of so much more than temporary petty needs. Sharing the moment with others, in real time, provides not only foundations for future generations, but a peace of mind that comes with realizing one is part of a larger skein than just the thread of one’s own life. The choices we make or don’t make now cement a future that whether we realize it or not we all made. With each moment that passes we ourselves grow closer to becoming removed from newer technologies and should see we are ethically bound to respect those who are going through what we will eventually go through ourselves. If we do not demand respect for the elderly from ourselves now, how can we ever expect to prevent business from practicing predatory marketing upon senior citizens.
© 2019 D A Moore