ften I look in the mirror and I can’t believe it’s me. My mind’s eye sees me as I was 25 years ago — with an actual waistline and strong, slim legs; with wide eyes and energy to burn. Growing older is unavoidable. One can avoid growing wider and droopier, but that takes determination, perseverence, and lots and lots of exercise, lotions, and pampering. If you can afford to go that route, that’s just fine. Me? I have not the time, energy, or resources. Anyway, it’s easier to let time take its toll and learn to laugh at the ignominy of it. Like Maxine.
Over at Time Goes By Ronni continues to protest the stereotyping of older individuals. Her latest post on Frailty and Stereotypes is excellent, providing references to research that indicates that we can do things to avoid becoming frail. Yes, ofen we can — again: systematic excercise, good nuitrition, optimistic attitude. In the best of all personal worlds, that’s the ticket. But many of our personal worlds are far from even good. I, for one, find it difficult to keep an optimistic attitude. Like Maxine.
Now, some might say that these Maxine cartoons perpetuate a negative stereotype of the “old lady.” Except there are grains of truth in them. And they are funny. And it’s therapeutic to laugh at oneself.
But that can’t be the end of it, and it’s how we feel about and deal with the realities of getting older that make the difference in how we are perceived — and will be perceived — by younger generations.
I found a post on ZDNet very telling in relation to how many “elders” relate to all of the rapidly evolving Internet offerings:
…only a few of the faculty members I questioned about YouTube knew what it was. For them, the phenomenon of user-generated video was something abstract. This highlights a knowledge gap between the twenty-somethings that attend the university and the 30-60 year-olds who teach there.
If community-based sites are the bread and butter of Web 2.0, then it’s mostly the people who grew up with the ‘Net who are participating. Most older folks have their communities and they’re not online. What’s that mean for business models as the ARPA crowd gets steadily bigger with the influx of baby-boomers? Are we going to settle for part of the population, or will someone break the age-barrier with online communities?
Interestingly, Adam talks about content in the context of community (no big surprise there) and spends a great deal of time talking about the health care industry. Adam claims that there’s a growing need for tools that allow patients to add value to health-care related communities by sharing information and experiences. These tools could lead to better predictors of health conditions, earlier diagnosis, and more successful treatments. And we’d save a lot of money too.
“Elders” like my 90 year old mom with increasingly disturbing dementia will continue to avoid anything new, especially technologies. But those others who have avoided technology so far can be lured in by offering them the kind of online community Bosworth has in mind — IF the offerings are constructed to be solidly elder-user friendly.
Meanwhile, little (or not so) old ladies like me, who make every effort to keep our “mind’s eye” image of ourselves as vital as possible, will always keep up with whatever new “YouTube” type fancies rise up from the younger Net set. We’ll keep blogging and wondering and giving our finger to the stereotypes that try to limit what we are and can be.
And meanwhile, some of us will always think that being an old lady can be a real hoot! Like Maxine.