Elderly Becoming Redundant

If the eld­erly are mostly recog­nised and val­ued for their accu­mu­lated know­ledge and skills (a con­ten­tious assump­tion in itself, gran­ted), then tech­no­lo­gic­al advances are gradu­ally mak­ing the older gen­er­a­tions redund­ant, sug­gests Philip Green­spun.

Let’s start by con­sid­er­ing fac­tu­al know­ledge. An old per­son will know more than a young per­son, but can any per­son, young or old, know as much as Google and Wiki­pe­dia? Why would a young per­son ask an eld­er the answer to a fact ques­tion that can be solved author­it­at­ively in 10 seconds with a Web search?

How about skills? Want help ori­ent­ing a rooftop tele­vi­sion aer­i­al? Chan­ging the vacu­um tubes in your TV? Dial­ing up AOL? Using MS-DOS? Chan­ging the rib­bon on an IBM Selec­tric (height of 1961 tech­no­logy)? Tun­ing up a car that lacks elec­tron­ic engine con­trols? Doing your taxes without con­sid­er­ing the Altern­at­ive Min­im­um Tax and the tens of thou­sands of pages of rules that have been added since our seni­or cit­izen was start­ing his career? Didn’t think so.

The same tech­no­lo­gic­al pro­gress that enables our soci­ety to keep an ever-lar­ger per­cent­age of old folk­s’ bod­ies going has sim­ul­tan­eously reduced the value of the minds with­in those bod­ies.

Sug­ges­tions for “main­tain­ing rel­ev­ance and value in old age” are grate­fully being received on Philip’s post.

4 thoughts on “Elderly Becoming Redundant

  1. Bailish

    Nat­ive Amer­ic­ans were almost wiped out by the white man’s pur­suit of gold.

    Farm­ers were forced into fore­clos­ure to cre­ate the mega-farms of today.

    Fact­ory work­ers lost their jobs to over­seas com­pan­ies pay­ing a frac­tion of their wages.

    Our val­ues don’t cher­ish the eld­erly. They are merely the latest cas­u­alty. How many are res­id­ents of rest homes?

  2. Pingback: The value of older people « Snarkmarket

  3. Pete Griffiths

    wow- what a pat­ron­iz­ing quote! rela­tion­ships are about more than util­ity, a life of actu­al exper­i­ence is far more inter­est­ing than an inter­net search.

  4. Lloyd Morgan Post author

    I com­pletely agree with both of you – it is a pat­ron­ising thought, yet it’s still an idea that res­on­ates with some people as they look at how the eld­erly are treated.

    Of course, I’m sure Green­spun knows his assump­tion is con­tro­ver­sial and I doubt he believes it fully.

    I felt Green­spun was hint­ing towards the loss of know­ledge and skills that we are let­ting pass by not dis­cuss­ing these things with people. As lan­guages become extinct and under threat we pre­serve them, but not skills. Should we?

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