commander codyI recently came across an article on “6 predictions for our digital future” written by CNN’s Doug Gross. It outlined the predictions made by Google chairman, Eric Schmidt,  in a new book “The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business,”  The article and book centered on what the “world will be like when everyone on Earth is connected digitally.”  It is Mr. Schmidt’s belief that this will happen by the end of the current decade.

That is only 7 years away, folks.  So, I ask – are you and everyone you know ready to be connected digitally, if you aren’t already.

Around the same time I was listening to John Mellencamp’s song “Peaceful World” and the line… “If you’re not part of the future, then get out of the way.”

I saw some new threads begin to intertwine between these two thoughts – “the future is digital and if you’re not part of it, then should you get out of the way?”  And what exactly does that mean as we age? Will playing bridge be done using Skype or will we start playing digital bingo?  Ok, maybe those stereotypes of what older folks like to do will have faded by then.  But what about the reality of aging and the issues we may face as we age? Fixed income? Changing physical and mental health? Loss of friends and family?  You have to wonder how the expected and increasing fast pace of living in a digital world will effect quality of life of an older adult who wants to relax and enjoy the fruits of retirement.  Is slowing down the expected path as we age and that if it doesn’t fit in a digital world? Or will embracing the digital world add untold joys to post-retirement lifestyles?

I remember about 15 years ago, offering computer classes at the local senior center and the absolute look of amazement on the faces of seniors fascinated by what they saw and could do on a PC. Of course, there were those who grumbled and would predict, “all this computer stuff will never catch on.”  Well, I guess we know that hasn’t exactly been the case.

So I try to think how I might face a digital world in the next 10 years.  I used to think it would be no problem keeping up with the latest technological trends and gadgets.  I bought a laptop, joined Facebook, got the latest iPhone, I’m good at texting, know how to Skype and can hold my own with videoconferencing at work.  But I haven’t embraced Twitter, E-bay nor do I have wireless Internet service or cable TV.  I use an amplified antenna to get local TV stations since I don’t like cable companies.  So I feel a little behind in some things and once you fall behind, at the pace of new technology, catching up may be impossible – and expensive.

So the next question for myself is – how much does it matter if I “don’t keep up” with all this technology?  Will it affect my longevity?  My quality of life? Will my friends abandon me if I don’t know the latest in tech?  Will I be able to continue to communicate with the world?  With my kids as they become more techno savvy?  Generally, I hope we will do the best we can, get into what is comfortable – separate the “wheat from the chafe” kind of attitude.  Maybe we will continue to know when something is important to pursue, learn and enhance it with all our aging wisdom.  I don’t think the goal of aging is to keep up with the latest trends or even to establish new ones.  I hope the goal will be to stay happy and healthy with whatever we undertake and make it a part of improving ourselves, our minds, bodies, and relationships – if we chose it to be.


The Guest Blogger this week is Tony DiNuzzo, Ph.D., Director, ETGEC-C, UTMB Sealy Center on Aging.

Image Source: “Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen” album cover.—articles/articles/technology-and-society/engineering-rock-star

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