Give my generation a bit of credit... vaccination sign-up 'debate' is ageist and unfair

Sue Russell responds to the recent buzz on Twitter about the vaccine registration process for older people
Give my generation a bit of credit... vaccination sign-up 'debate' is ageist and unfair

Sue Russell said many 60-69-year-olds, are only barely out of the workforce and, depending on their occupation, have been operating in a computerised world for the last 40 years. Picture: Stock

BY the time you are reading this, my ‘portal’ will have opened up and I should be all signed up, ready to go and waiting the call to get my vaccination.

I have my pencil sharpened, my specs polished, and all the various numbers and codes I need to get registered. So fingers crossed it will all go according to plan.

There was a bit of a buzz during the week on Twitter about the registration process and the possible difficulties there might be for people of my vintage to register. Some younger people were preparing for the prospect of having to assist or indeed complete the process for their parents who, they felt, might be unable or unwilling to do it for themselves.

And most unlike myself, I joined in this ‘debate’. Normally I just ‘hide’ on Twitter — much of it seems quite just a vehicle for shouty people to shout at each other and I am no good at shouting. But anything that smacks even slightly of ageism is always too much for me to resist putting my pennyworth in.

I simply pointed out that many people in this current cohort, the 60-69-year-olds, are only barely out of the workforce and, depending on their occupation, have been operating in a computerised world for the last 40 years. Provided we have access to a computer and the internet, it shouldn’t be that daunting.

One Twitterer (is that the correct terminology?) remarked that, in general older people don’t like ‘technology’. The thing is that once upon a time the wheel was technology. The printing press, the ball point pen, the steam engine, the telephone, space travel — all of these revolutionary inventions were, and still are, ‘technology’.

These days, we take them for granted — no one regards them as extraordinary — well, maybe the space travel — they’re just part of everyday life which we learn to grapple with as we go.

Babies aren’t born knowing how to use all the kit that surrounds them. As I saw on a poster somewhere (and I’m paraphrasing here) ‘the old woman whose television you are re-tuning is probably the person who taught you to use a spoon’.

My point is that as new things come along, we all have to learn how to use them. If we want to. If they are useful to us. 

I’m sure it didn’t take much persuasion for people to start using wheels to move things around — the benefits were obvious if you were trying to drag rocks from one spot to another.

The benefits of other inventions were less clear. The steam engine displaced canal boats and their operators, the telegram displaced the stage coach, ball point pens replaced quill and ink — many technologies had downsides for those who had a vested interest in the status quo.

My point is that any given new technology has to be learned, adapted and incorporated into our daily lives for it to become easy to use and, like the wheel, indispensable.

When I first started writing this column, I always started the first few lines by hand. My brain simply couldn’t translate thoughts to keyboard in one direct line. But I got used to it — so much so that my handwriting these days is practically illegible!

There is nothing per se about older people that makes us allergic to ‘technology’. Things may be unfamiliar; they may seem complicated or we may doubt their usefulness. (I, for one, can’t see myself ever using Alexa for example — I’m old enough to remember what happened when HAL took over!!).

Stop and think for a moment how much your grandparents have adapted to in their lifetime and give a bit of credit where it’s due. Now beam me up to the portal, Scotty!

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