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Crabby Old Lady on a Dumb Medical “Fact” of the Day

In a vague sort of way, Crabby Old Lady keeps her eye on commercial websites aimed at her age group hoping to see something that marshals a whole lot more resources than Crabby – only one person – can bring to the subject of “what it's really like to get old.”

About a year ago, Twin Cities Public Television in Minneapolis-St. Paul launched a website for people 50 and older called Next Avenue. The subtitle of Next Avenue is “where grownups keep growing” and in an interview with The New York Times, vice president and editorial director, Donna Sapolin, said the site would

“...'bring a PBS sensibility,' to the online venture. 'It’s a certain level of gravitas and erudition and mission focus,' she said.”

Crabby supposes what that means is dependent upon PBS's definitions of gravitas and erudition because Next Avenue's stories are so consistently light and airy they are in danger of floating off the screen.

When they are not insulting a reader's intelligence with vague platitudes (on unemployment: “observe strict daily grooming habits”), they indulge in the kind of pop-psychology and generic advice articles more suited to Cosmopolitan. Except, that well may be an insult to Cosmo.

Although most are too superficial to be useful, there are the usual (and totally unoriginal) nuts-and-bolts stories on health, finance, living, etc. that are more interesting and thorough almost anywhere else online. Here is a sampling of some current headlines:

Can Bubbly Boost Brain Power?

How to Beat 'Tip of the Tongue' Syndrome

Nutrition Facts: Reading the Label

6 Money-Saving Travel Secrets

The biggest puzzle for Crabby is why, at a website that purports to be for people who are 50 and older, the only old people mentioned are readers' parents.

The reason Crabby Old Lady bothers with Next Avenue at all anymore is she keeps hoping it will get better. But this week, they have moved from dumb and irrelevant to fake and irresponsible:

“Beware Your Cell Phone!” blares the headline. “It Causes Wrinkles, Cosmetic Surgeons Say.”

John Stark, the “articles editor” at Next Avenue, writes:

”According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery [ASAPS], smartphones can make you look prematurely old. There’s no medical name for this condition, at least not yet. Until there is I’m calling it 'smartphone face.'”

Then he quotes the ASAPS website where he says he discovered this “condition:”

“Lines and creases may develop if you spend an excessive amount of time texting and checking your email on your smartphone. The constant downward gaze caused by smartphone use may be causing some individuals to experience more lines and creases on their neck than would appear naturally.”

Wha? How stupid does Mr. Stark think Crabby Old Lady is? This screams FAKE and CHARLATAN and SNAKEOIL and anyway, people have been reading books - which also involved a "downward gaze" - for centuries without developing "bookface." This, apparently, what passes for gravitas and erudition at PBS these days and although Crabby has always held a healthy skepticism of the organization's pretensions, this is a new low.

For some inexplicable reason, Time magazine bothered to look into this “smartphone face” claim a few days ago, asking British cosmetician, Dr. Mervyn Patterson to weigh in on the validity of it:

”According to Patterson, more and more people are noticing what they look like while they’re Skyping or video-conferencing. And they’re not happy with what they see. But is there any truth to it?

“Short answer: probably not. There’s no real science to prove that smartphone face even remotely exists...”

In other words, this Next Avenue story is more suited to Weekly World News or pretty much any supermarket tabloid than a website for elders that promises "gravitas and erudition."

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: On Money


I so agree with this post. (Crabby Old Lady must be reading my mind or hearing me talk back to the computer.). I was excited when I first heard this new site was coming, signed up for the newsletter and followed them on Twitter. However, after a few weeks, saw this was not what I wanted to read.

The site says it's for people over 50... doesn't say if you are over 65 that there isn't much for you.

Ah, now I know why I have so many wrinkles. I have bookface.

Maybe they meant it was for people over 5.0? Decimal missing? That kind of airy fairy crap takes me beyond crabby to absolutely freaking bullshit. There. Let the sp*m filter catch that one.

The word that comes to mind when I read this kind of garbage is 'superficial.' Even if true, who cares?

Who has time for such sillies? Those folks need to find a volunteer job where thy can actually do some good.


Right on, Ronnie. I had read that article, too, and when I got done I unsubscribed to the site. Such inanity is a waste of our precious time, especially now, when so many urgent matters deserve our attention. And it was a real con. I clicked on it because I thought it was going to be about phone radiation having some kind of physiological effect. (And I also didn't appreciate the writer congratulating himself for bad phone manners (holding up traffic by texting at intersections and not turning his phone off in the concert hall.)

There's an old saying, don't believe anything you hear and only have of what you see. Today that is in hyper drive, it's squaring it's self. Me personally I take the wabi-sabi approach to aging and my physical appearance and it seems to work? Not that I go fishing for compliments (that's a lie I'm shameless) but when complimented I just say I'm the in shape outa shape old guy:) and so can everyone. PBS makes me sad I mean have you seen the parade of hacks, shills and [clip] on there fund raising infomercials?

Perhaps folks using smart phones discovered what i did the first time I tried FaceTime:
Holding the phone as most of us usually do, out in front of our bellies and about a forearm's length in front of the belly, means the camera is shooting upward in just about the most unflattering way possible. It was called in "ghoul" shot in the newspaper business for obvious reasons when you look at the result.
If you're talking on the phone in (on?) FaceTime or Skype, hold the phone up at least at eye level. That way you won't go to a plastic surgeon to correct what is only a camera angle problem.

Next Avenue = Silly Stuff

I've blabbed about it a few times:


Crabby - another major player has a new site and for the life of me I can't figure out what it is, what the point of it is. Please enlighten me:


Book face!?! I love it (and I think I have it).

Never heard of Next Avenue--but apparently I'm not missing much. Maybe I'll take a one-time detour over there just to see what it looks like, but based on Ronni's post (she's a source I respect!)and the comments, I won't be staying long.

I consider Next Aveneue to be light and fun reading. It's a weekly dose of entertainment chalk full of interesting articles (if you know what to look up) and I don't take the articles too seriously NOR do I expect to visit Next Avenue to read hard hitting journalism. But folks that's not the point of Next Avenue. Both my husband and I are 64 years old and enjoy receiving the weekly newsletter. It reminds me how excited my daughter would be to pick up US Weekly or People Magazine to take and read by the pool on Summer trips. Take Next Avenue's content for what it's worth and if you lighten up, you'll probably enjoy the read more!

No doubt our generation is hungry for meaningful and stimulating topics relevant to us. The only thing our local PBS has done to acknowledge elders is their line up of fund raising efforts promoting old dinosaur rockers and soul music (so our grandchildren will know and appreciate this stuff). This along with a myriad of health and financial quacks that promise to "change" our lives.

I prefer "Democracy Now" or Travis Smiley. Travis is sensitive to and occasionally discusses real issues facing the aged, middle class, and marginalized as much as the PBS will allow. My opinion only, but AARP's website is almost laughable - especially their recommended "Top 5 retirement cities." Perhaps they should put their membership money to better research and less pop up ads.

"Some people have "Smartphone Face," others have "Butt Face" from twisting around, "does my bum look big in this?"

I've got "Mud Face" from sticking my noggin in the garden plucking weeds.

Perhaps the article is really phone-on-cheek.

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