A 27-Year-Old Takes on the World of Elders – Part 1
Economic Inequality – a Life and Death Proposition

A 27-Year-Old Takes on the World of Elders – Part 2

[Part 1 was posted yesterday and can be found here.)

As I explained yesterday, I “met” 27-year-old Marcie Rogo on the telephone after she emailed me seeking a story on Time Goes By about her fledgling, online business, ConnectAround.

I don't get to spend time with many people her age (these days, with years passing as quickly as they do, those who were once my “young” friends are closer to 40 than 20) and I liked connecting with this smart, hard-working woman who lives in quite a different world from mine.

Marcie's company creates safe, secure online websites for people living in 55-plus communities to help them connect with their neighbors. Here is part of how she explained it to me in her first email:

”We started with just me and my first hire Joyce who, at 81 years old, wanted this service in her community. She had just moved in and was finding it very difficult to meet people despite the many amenities and activities offered by her community.

“We just provided her a safe place to connect and then spread throughout Rossmoor via a bit of a grass roots effort. Within a few months Joyce was running around with an iPad and she definitely proves age is JUST a number!

“Over the past year, groups have been started through the site like Spanish Language practice, Vegan dinners and Poodle Owners. Neighbors have met each other through the site and are now close friends. It's incredible to watch and makes every thing I've been through 150% worth it.”

The websites for the first two communities, Summerset in Brentwood, California, and Rossmoor in Walnut Creek, California, were launched in 2012 and more are being added. They are funded by the communities' management companies and are free to residents.

When I asked Marcie for a story about her experience working with and for people old enough to be her grandparents, she responded with some fascinating differences between our generations. Yesterday, she covered, elder paranoia, no free lunches, professionalism and dress habits of the young and old.

Here now is Part 2.


GRAMMAR

As you read this, I’m sure you’ve noticed I have horrible grammar. This is not just something that’s genetic in my family but also something that’s common among my generation because of tools like spell check and even grammar check on MS Word.

We, as peers, have come to forgive each other. We are writing quick emails back and forth and have prepositions at the end of sentences or do not use a semi-colon where we should or spell something wrong. We are moving so quickly we get the memo, forgive, forget, respond, and move on.

This is NOT the case with the older generation. I have gotten numerous messages about my poor spelling or lack of grammar. I am not forgiven. This is a huge problem and at some point we are going to have to hire a copywriter. My bad!

SYMBOLS, BUTTONS, ETC.

This is quite straightforward. If you weren’t raised using computers, no one should expect that an arrow means “next” or that a gear means “settings.” These are things that I forget, I’m so used to seeing that it’s literally second nature.

My generation is full of unintelligent, ageist people that like to conclude that older adults are “computer-tarded” or something of that nature which really makes my blood boil. Put any one of us at a typewriter and expect us to know what to do – we won’t, because we never had to use one.

This is why, when everyone asks me why I don’t just target younger communities, I say no. I’m making this for people that don’t have something made for them and who are struggling to use sites that were built for 20-year-old techies.

I want to make something for them that is easy to use and doesn’t make them feel stupid. Because they aren’t. I hope there’s a young person that does this for me one day when I am trying to keep up with the whirlwind of changes going on around me.

GUESS WHAT'S THE SAME? DATING AND MEN

Do you know what is exactly the same? Dating. It still stinks! Now, I can only speak form a woman’s perspective but Joyce, our 80-something community liaison, is female and she has told me some stories!!

The single men in her community are the obvious minority since many women outlive their husbands or move into the communities as divorcees for safety and security. These men date MANY women at once, even women that are friends. They play the field and do not commit.

Sigh, some things will never change. Even my grandmother is having trouble finding a companion. She tells me all the time, “I don’t want to be a nurse, and I don’t want to be a purse. And that’s what these men seem to want.”

DO YOU KNOW WHAT NOT THE SAME? CHIVALRY

The men may be playing the field in the older generation but they at least open doors, call on the phone, do not flake, compliment, pay the bill, etc. Also, they do NOT text.

The men in my generation think texting is OK for everything. I’ve been texted to be asked out before even meeting. I’ve been texted to find out about my day. I’ve been texted to be told he is cancelling our date. I’ve even been texted to be broken up with.

Texting enables men to be cowards, which does allow me to throw them in the bucket faster once I figure this out.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Arizona Cowgirl

Comments

I guess I am a lucky one...I have raised my granddaughter who is now 24 and I am 69, so I see all of her generation's behavior, desires, interests and passions up close and personal. When we go out to eat and chat I catch up on the latest tech, apps, movies, fashion and music. Quite enlightening, to say the least!

I have a 96-yo friend who is writing his second book on a computer. He has a kind of palsy that makes his hands just vibrate, he cannot control which key on the keyboard he hits. Nevertheless he is writing his second book.

I try to help him with some of the errors he inevitably makes but often I have no idea what key he hit and how he caused whatever it is that is happening on his computer. We've tried to get him on some kind of voice-activated software but he has crazy glitches with that too.

Trying to explain to him what is going on is like trying to learn a second language from scratch. He has his own understanding of how computers work, his own names for things, and he doesn't understand the common words we use to describe computer operations. He has no idea what a "file" is or a "folder". He doesn't know what a "program" is or "software". But he is a smart guy and wants to know what is going on and he expects you to explain it to him since you are so much more experienced with this sort of thing. It is indeed a challenge to do that.

I would like to request that Marcie never use the term "computer-tarded" ever again. My son had Down Syndrome and I find that term very offensive. Thank you.

to Annie: I think some of that is because the computer language is based on office language, and men his age didn't work in the office - or if they did, their sec'y managed the files and folders and the typing. I had a similar experience trying to show a friend in his 70s how to use some computer features. The problem was that he had been a steel worker; he didn't know what "shift" and "tab" were; he had no typing experience.

Love these posts, Ronni. And thanks to Marcie!

Hi Marcie -- these have been interesting posts. Thank you for sharing them.

You must have to invest an awful lot of energy in training to get an economically adequate quantity of users … A friend moved into a retirement community in the mid-90s. She was an energetic retired school teacher. The place was a coop; the residents largely pretty well off; she quickly persuaded them to vote to have the place wired for ethernet and wifi. And then she devoted the next ten years to training people in using their computers. Some learned and adopted; others didn't. It is probably a little easier now, but not as much as any of us here might expect.

Yes -- the graphical interface is its own, foreign, language to those who don't know it. In the early 90s I taught computer use to anti-apartheid activists in rural South Africa. We had some resistance because in that society a "window" was something you must shutter against a passing witch who might give you the evil eye, not something you open and use. Our symbol system is not universal -- it is broadening to know that.

Something that has gone with aging for me is that I've stopped being an early-adopter geek who tinkered with the innards of machines and with software and become a mere user. That's all I want from computers -- that they work, damn it! Our electronics are tools, not objects of fascination. Many "improvements" seem to me unnecessary complications that impede ease of use. I bet you encounter that attitude a lot.

Good luck to you!

Brava, Marcie, for your willingness to come up with systems that improve the lives of those elders. Bless you.

Yes, comma's and conclusions. Dress and no texting. LOL

Thanks so much for doing this. There are a few other sites that work well for elders, but they are not well maintained. We thank you.

Wonderful stuff Marcie, may you succeed and prosper, your service is of such benefit!!
XO
WWW

The computer is such a complicated technology that most elders rely on a younger person for help when things go wrong. It's one thing to just learn how to use a computer for e-mail and research, but quite another when you want to take advantage of all of the wonderful things a computer can do. It is a constant learning process and takes patience. If I am any example it is much harder to stay focused on solving problems than it was years ago.

When the computer slows down, you get a virus or Malware or the computer crashes an elder is frustrated when trying to resolve the issue and often gives up. A younger person is able to repair the computer with ease.

I can see where Marcie's idea might be a boon to elders and get more of them involved in the new age of technology. of course the downside to this is that the elders might get so involved with the computer that they don't have time to socialize in their community. :-)

I honor what Marcie herself is doing, but her description of generational differences paints much of her age group as ignorant, unmannerly, insensitive, and perfectly complacent about it all. Straight from the horse's mouth!

Interesting, I wonder if her application would work for a small town loaded with retirees? I applaude for her interest and her efforts.

I think Marcie has a great idea, but if she's going to be successful, she's going to have to be careful about stereotyping. I'm sure not all young people are blase about their clothes, manners, grammar, and privacy, nor are all seniors ignorant about modern technology and its use. I also think that in business it always pays to adopt appropriate business dress and grooming, and to be meticulous about one's grammar and spelling. She'll never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Wow. I'm in my late 60's. I hit the Internet after a business course in early 1995. Grey background, no pictures. I learned html coding and started a web magazine. I have a blog, run a non- profit website, and live on the computer.

Vision problems have kept me from moving on to texting (can't read the small screen).

But what I can see clearly is that numerous older people here are extremely resistant to change and most of all resent youth.

Younger people have different attitudes, social customs and manners. Doesn't mean they aren't fine and caring people. Pointing out that they have their own social customs doesn't mean they are being stereotyped, just as saying some older people won't use computers isn't stereotyping older people. It's simply the truth.

My parents were born in 1904 and were scandalized when I left home to work and live on my own. No decent woman in their generation did such a thing.

Their parents were scandalized when mother had her long hair bobbed in the 1920s and left off her long skirt for the "flapper" get-up and pumps.

We sure have short memories. But then those of us over 60 are damn near perfect, as I see it, and this younger generation is going to hell in a handbasket, as my old granddaddy (b 1860) used to say.

I think we ought to stop worrying about how Marcie conducts what appears to be a successful business and ask ourselves, "What have I done to reduce another elder's isolation and loneliness today?

Here's a young woman trying to solve a major problem among elders today, and I think she deserves a chance to be as human as you and me (you perfect yet? I'm not).

If everyone waited to do anything until everyone in the world agreed *it* was perfect and *they* were perfect we'd still be arguing over how to hack out our first stone tool.

Kudos Marcie! Here's wishing you great success. You have a kind and caring heart, which is a precious asset.

I've never met Marcie, of course, but I think I'd really like her. I know I'd have plenty of questions for her although I've been working on a succession of computers more or less successfully since around 1990 (strictly as an end user). The technology has grown much more complex now, and it's terrific to see a young woman--in a field historically dominated by white males--come up with what I think could be a tremendously useful app.

In my view her two original sites were well-chosen. Residents of Rossmoor are financially well-off and therefore more likely to have been exposed to computers, although it doesn't necessarily follow that they know a lot about using one. My parents lived there in retirement and my brother probably will, too. (I won't for many reasons, but primarily because my husband and I aren't in the requisite financial bracket.)

BTW, I don't think Marcie is stereotyping intentionally when she describes her age group--she's just trying to give some context to the differences she has observed. I appreciate what she's doing and hope her business is wildly successful. (I'd love to know what she thinks about the cloud and computer security/privacy in general. I admit that I'm hesitant to trust my personal data to the cloud!)

Dear Marcie--Having only one granddaughter, may I adopt you as another?

You made me laugh when your wrote of men and texting. Mostly I laughed remembering how my Hunky Husband called me (this was in 1986, so it was via landline) at 5:00am My time (Los Angeles - in a motel) to propose marriage. We had been married for 19 years and divorced for 9 at that point, so I took it pretty well in stride.

Since about that time, I have been preaching to the tek community that they needed to make PCs more user friendly. Having used/programmed mainframes from 1959 and on, computers have always been a tool for me (an engineer) and I saw/see no reason for a tool to be unfriendly! You are furthering the response to my plea in a way that helps us elders. Thank you!

Deb--Did you know that you can text using your computer? Get your tekie to show you/write out the directions on how to do it. I've not done it myself; but, Hunky Husband wrote out how to do it in case I need to contact him when cell telephony is not working.

To your lauding Marcie: Right on!

"Kudos, Good Job, Very ̧ commendable" would all be appropriate, Marcie, but I just want to say "Thank You!". At 84 years I did not grow up with computers as children do now, but I was so enthralled with the concept of computers that I started taking classes and teaching myself back in 1994. [My Macs have been great teachers.] It was a challenge at the time as we were full time travelers and the RV community was just beginning to become computer friendly. I do like my quiet and privacy and consequently do not have much of a social life. I would, however welcome a way to contact others in my retirement community who have similar interests and capacities. Perhaps it would be helpful to have a place in Connect Around where Elders could contact a computer tech for advice and answers to questions. I will share your website with my facilities manager. It remains to be seen if RHF, our parent foundation, would sponsor our facility. Here's a fervent wish for continuing success in your "mission".

I was in the computer biz for more than 40 years, one of the earliest. However, I still wonder when "directories" became "folders". This is just one of many changes over the years so even people like me who are really conversant with computers occasionally blink our eyes and wonder what's going on. I really sympathise with people who have come to computers lately.


I have to respond to all these amazing comments, and I apologize for the length but I must go one by one because I do truly care what you all have to say and must thank you for taking the time to provide this thoughtful feedback!

So here it goes..
@Diane - you are lucky and that sounds like an amazing relationship!
@Annie you are doing an incredible thing and I commend you! It makes me sad that I can't sit with every user that needs help on the computer and walk them through it. Hopefully I can hire staff one day to visit our sites and do so.
@Mary J you are very welcome!
@Cathy that was a quote from others (whom I detest) but point very well taken I offer my sincerest apologies
@janin I do encounter resistance but I feel it myself too! Facebook is getting way too complicated even for me, especially the privacy settings. This is why we've simplified our platform to just have the buttons and tools needed!
@Mary I can't thank you enough!
@Mage B yes no texting!! ;)
@WWW 1 Million Thank You's!
@Darlene you are spot on, it's a challenge but I'm hoping to make it more approachable with our simple and safe service
@Diane I am sorry you decided my post was meant to be an overarching generalization, and that it led to you making an overarching generalization of my generation. Ironically, I am one of the few people my age who is dedicated her career to honor and respect you and I do not feel that I need to say more to prove that.
@Celia you hit the NAIL on the HEAD for our next steps!
@PiedType Sorry if there was a misunderstanding about my post - it was meant to be some simple observations; they do not reflect this entire population but only some of the people I have met. No intention of generalizing here!
@Deb - it's like you can see inside my soul! I want so much to help because I know I can! Please email me marcie@connectaround so I can call you and thank you for your amazing words!
@Elizabeth thank you thank you thank you for that beautiful post! I'd love to speak with you offline about the cloud so email me and we can set up a time to chat with my tech-cofounder who is the expert there.
@Cop Car - I'm all yours! I only have 1 grandmother left and would love another! Maybe you can help me find a "Hunky Husband" :)
@Nancy please contact me marcie@connectaround because I would love to give you a free site! We don't charge management at this point - they can post for free.

To all, a quick clarification on money- we make money via local merchant pages, like Yelp. They pay and offer discounts to our users, and they have NO access to you or your data! They can not see any of the site besides their pages. We also have investors.

Finally, THANK YOU, EACH AND EVERY ONE for reading this and thank you Ronnie for giving me the highest honor of being featured on your amazing blog. What a special experience!

Marcie--I am so sorry that you don't have another blood grandmother. *cheekily* When may I come collect you? (Then we'll worry about finding you a HH!) Unfortunately, of the two males whom I know best (and have tried to adopt as grandsons, one has a fiancee and the other is in a stable, same-sex relationship. *sigh*

@cop car i'm based in Los Angeles, come collect me any time! as far as those guys, #storyofmylife!

;)

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