Digital shame, a dirty little secret

An off-grid life is a status symbol for some but a disadvantage for others. Living life in a digital society can lead to overwhelming feelings of shame. When you can’t do your banking, schooling, or even phone a friend without some tech-savvy, it becomes a social problem. With so many shiny new things to distract us, we gloss over a critical fact: all modern technology needs to be taught. From the invention of fire onwards, someone had to show others how to use it.

Older people rely on others to keep them up to speed. For their kids and grandkids, digital devices are already a way of life. Digital natives will lack the awareness, patience, and ability to teach someone from scratch. They forget they had to learn everything from walking to talking by watching us. They’ve never lived without the internet or a TV without a remote control. Eventually, Generation X will be the last people alive who knew life before Google.

Fear of making mistakes and wider concerns about their social responsibility are among reasons why older people are rejecting digital technologies.

— Lancaster University, 2018

Accessibility is just as important as processing power and battery life. As technology improves at pace, older segments of the population will fear or resent constant innovation and software updates. Younger groups will too. Well-designed, simple solutions with clear instructions that all humans are capable of understanding are essential. Particularly in customer-reliant sectors such as media, banking, retail and utilities.

Getting help should be an option if your family gets frustrated with you and before you want to bin your brand-new phone. Finding someone prepared to explain gigabytes (without rolling their eyes) is harder. Don’t give up, your brain will benefit but help is at hand.