We all know how much the world has changed over the decades, but as many seniors have discovered, the digital era isn’t always so compatible with their abilities.
Life has certainly become a lot more complicated when it comes to digitally enhanced products and services for those beyond the boomer’s age. Simple correspondence is now done through emails and scanning documents and receipts, and then there’s the automated everything from bank machines, calling a place of business, to the every day transactions done in a store with charge or debit cards. I had to learn along with the masses how to do all these things, and it was a learning curve for me in the beginning. But what about all the seniors out there who are overwhelmed by all the changes that they didn’t adapt to along the way of the technology advancements? I can’t speak for everyone, but I know from my own husband’s inexperience with most things digital that if I weren’t around to do many things for him, he would be lost. And he has no qualms about admitting that himself. He is computer illiterate, and not at all interested in beginning to learn about it now. I can’t help but wonder where that leaves many people incapacitated by technological developments.
Let’s take the act of traveling for instance. Many of us realize that the joy of traveling is a thing of the past. It’s now become a tedious process we must adhere to before we even begin to board an airplane. Even I, who consider myself pretty well-versed in computerese, still get flustered over all the technological components of boarding a plane. No doubt it’s overwhelming for seniors.
We used to check-in, drop our bags, zip through security, and await our plane. Now we first have to enter our passports into a kiosk machine and hit a bunch of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ buttons to get a digital boarding pass just to check-in. Next, if we’re traveling to the U.S., we have to take our luggage with us to go through customs, but not without first having to place our passports in yet another kiosk machine to security check and verify who we are. Then we get to proceed to a customs agent so that we can verify the same information all over again that we just fed a machine. We then get to drop our bags off and prepare for airport security check. There we empty our pockets, take off our shoes and jewelry, sweaters and hats, pull apart laptops, present our miniature liquids and gels, and then to top it off, we get a dose of radiation and get to bare our naked bodies to an x-ray machine for anyone behind those cameras to peruse. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until we will be standing in our underwear for all the other passengers to view too. Now, this is a lot of preparation for a trip, and for those who aren’t computer savvy, it’s a very intimidating process.
This past month, I have taken on a new responsibility for my husband; and shall I say for the Toronto Blue Jays. We are season ticket holders. Every year in the past, we were sent a package with tickets for all the games. This year, they decided that tickets would no longer be sent out, but rather we would have a digital account with all of our tickets listed in them. All the games were also on a card they sent to be scanned at the gates with a bar code so we could enter.
The account gives us the ability to also print off tickets, email them to people we choose to give, sell off, or donate to. There are 81 games, which equals 162 seats that I had to manage. I had to take a little tutorial course on all the procedures, and let me say how daunting it was. I was flabbergasted by the work involved to distribute these tickets. Sure it’s convenient for the association to fluff off the work onto us and avoid it themselves, along with printing and postage costs. But I can’t help but wonder, aren’t we paying enough already?
It was a tedious and very time-consuming process, and naturally I encountered a few glitches along the way. I called my ticket agent when it got too confusing, and left him a message. He usually responds within an hour, but he returned my call two days later. He apologized for the delay because he was inundated with calls for help. “NO KIDDING!” I responded. I told him I could only imagine how flustered and lost the many seniors were that now had to deal with this procedure. He concurred. Once again, my husband thanked me for doing all that work for him and he added, “If I didn’t have you, I’d have cancelled the damn tickets.” It left me wondering about just how many did cancel their subscription.
My husband has been a car salesman for almost 53 years. He’s old school, well respected and well known in the industry for his sales and service. He retired a few years ago after being with one dealership for 48 years. After a few months, he realized he missed working, so he went back to work for a friend who manages another dealership. He’s always been a top salesman and still provides service to his customers; long after the car is driven off the lot. He has repeat clients that have come to him, some with three generations from a family. I’m pretty sure that my husband is one of the only guys in the industry without a computer on his desk.
He still uses pen and paper to juggle numbers, and he can tell you about any particular car he sold to someone from a half a century ago. He remembers their names, the color and make of the car, and sometimes how many kilometres were registered on it. Many dealerships tried to get him over to theirs through the years, and his lack of computer skills has always been overlooked because of his great salesmanship. He does the selling, and management enters what needs be into the computer for him after. This system has been working for him, although he realizes he is missing opportunities to sell more by not being able to use the computer to search information for himself. The dealership has also implemented a system where cold calls and leads that come in are shared amongst salesman by an alert system, either by text or email. Sadly, he is missing out on these extra leads because of his computer handicap. His sales haven’t lagged, but he notices that some of the weaker salesmen are selling more now, and that bothers him because he knows he’s missing out, and he’s all about being top salesman.
As some of you know, my husband is just over two decades older than me. And rightly so, at age 77, he’s certainly entitled to retire. He says the computer world is hindering his abilities to keep up, and perhaps this may be his last year of working before we set out for his dream of becoming a snowbird next year in Arizona.
Do any of you have someone close to you who is feeling the clamps of technology coming down on them?