March 10, 2021–New! Simplified for Seniors!

That was the screaming message for an offer in my mailbox last week. It upset me.

When, I yelled at the sky, did being a senior citizen mean you got stupid?

Shouldn’t it be the exact opposite? Shouldn’t the people who have lived longest be the smartest people on the planet? If not, what is the point of acquiring all that knowledge? Or experiencing all that experience?

Why is it septuagenarians who are falling for scams like the one telling you to send money to get a grandkid out of trouble?

Maybe it’s not age-based. Maybe those people that were stupid in their 20s are the same people who are now stupid in their 70s, only they have more money to be bilked out of.

I’ve never understood this mindset, even when I was nowhere close to being part of that demographic.

My grandpa used to eat Archway cookies while yelling at J.R. on the TV show Dallas. He seemed to think it was a reality show, not a television series. I marveled at how this man who was born in 1899, had seen the invention of the automobile, the airplane, radio, and television, had lived through two world wars and a depression, and had witnessed men walking on the moon, could not have figured out how TV shows work.

Old people are the only people you are allowed to make fun of anymore. Members of every ethnic group, the “differently abled,” citizens of any country, or practitioners of any faith are considered off-limits for poking fun at. But who is the universal target? Old people. Grandpa Simpson. Golden Girls. Grumpy Old Men. The Expendables.

The most annoying stereotype is the assumption that if you are over 50 you can’t understand technology. That is illogical. Who do you think invented that technology? All us relics were the ones who came up with transistors, quantum theory, Pop-Tarts, and the Apple IIe. In 1968 I stayed after school to learn how to write programs using cards and #2 pencils. We had to send the stack to the university and wait a week for it come back to see if it worked. Then repeat the process and wait another week after you discovered you left out one comma. It took me a semester to get a dot-matrix printout of “WHAT AN ABOMINATION!”

But the point is I was speaking in this new language called BASIC, over 50 years ago. I bought one of the first TRS-80 Radio Shack computers in the 1970s, and introduced the Commadore 64 computer to my gifted classes in the 1980s. I’ve built web sites in every permutation of software from html to Front Page, Dreamweaver, WordPress, up to today’s drag and drop versions.

So I think I can understand how to work a cell phone, thank you very much.

Seriously, I think some of us older folks’ perceived inability to handle technology is a ruse. If we hesitate while setting the ring tones on our new smart phone, some Gen-Alphabeter will jump in and offer to do it for us. I’ve learned to let them.

Another trick is pretending we are too old for manual labor. We discover if we grimace when bending over to pick up a stick of firewood, some strapping young man will jump in and fill the wood box for us.

So we can go back to eating our Archway cookies and yelling at J.R.

Who’s the dumb one?