Digital shame: a dirty little secret

An off-grid life is a choice for some but a disadvantage for others. Not being online is not a status symbol, it can lead to overwhelming feelings of shame. When you can’t do your banking, schooling or telephone a friend without tech-savvy, it becomes a social problem.

We gloss over a critical fact: all technology needs to be taught. From the invention of fire onwards, someone had to demonstrate and 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 by watching us. Now they don’t even think about not knowing – it’s second nature. They’ve never lived without the internet or a remote control TV. 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 resent 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 outside help is an option when your family gets frustrated with you. Finding someone prepared to explain gigabytes (without rolling their eyes) is harder. Don’t give up, your brain will benefit.