The Cult of Youth

I went to the dentist the other day  and  chatting as you do waiting for the agony to start, she asked me what I did for a living. “I work on the internet” I answered. It’s pretty hard to explain what I do to people not  into it and that answer usually  is enough. More and eyes glaze over followed by snoring noises.

Anyway, she rather took me back by saying “but you’re the wrong side of 40!” I must admit to being a bit shocked by this. The assumption being that the internet and computers are only for the young.

Just as an aside, I wrote my first working computer program back in 1973. It took a group of random numbers and put them into order. First of all I  had to create a flow chart, using pencil, paper and a drawing template. Then, having worked out the logic of the program, I wrote down the instructions on paper. Next I typed these in on a big typewriter that produced a roll of punched paper. Finally I took this roll of punched paper and put it onto another machine that sent it down a telephone line to a computer in Milton Keynes. After a few minutes, the teletype rattled back a list of sorted numbers.

About an hours work to sort 10 numbers. Now I would slap those numbers into a spreadsheet , select  them and hit the sort button. Less than a minute.  So let’s get it straight, things are far easier now than they were  34 years ago.

Anyway, back to the point. The assumption that the internet is just for the young. It’s absolute rubbish.  The biggest growth market on the internet are silver surfers – those like me with a touch of silver on top.  If you can read and write you can use the internet. The technology available is wonderful –  creating a web site is no longer the province of geeks.

And guess what? We geriatric surfers are better at it than the young. We might not grasp the finer points of the latest technology but we have some real advantages. First  we can write so that others can understand. Second we can sit  down and read the manual. So we find out how to do it. Third, we aren’t afraid to ask for advice when we get stuck. Finally and most important,  we have the experience to pass on so our sites are interesting.

Now what I do is not too complex – yes it has taken me a few years to learn but it’s not as complicated as  being a doctor or  a lawyer  or many other jobs, no doubt.  So why this cult of youth?

Every other advert seems to scream about younger looking skin, keeping young, being young.  It seems that everyone has to emulate being ten years or more younger. Companies can’t discriminate on age (yeah, right – on paper) and they make great play of companies employing the older people in such wonderful jobs as filling shelves in supermarkets.

But have you noticed how few of these older people are middle management? Yes the average age of the board is likely way over 50  but not the people below them.  So what happens? Do we lose the knowledge we’ve acquired? Or do we just stop taking it so seriously?

Whatever – I’m sorry kids. I’ve had twice your years to learn in and I may not be as quick but guess who won the race between the hare and the totoise.


Posted in Rants and Raves

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