Opinion - Keeping pace with IT is a real challenge

Charles Graham
Charles Graham
Share this article

IT can be hard to keep up with an ever-changing world - especially for decades on end.

We bear with some breakthroughs and changes, especially if they have serious repercussions on our lives or if they take little effort to absorb.

But year after year of being taken out of your comfort zone can be wearing and sometimes rather depressing, especially to the less adaptable among us (of which there are many).

I, for instance, object to being told by shops that don’t sell personal CD players anymore that I should spend a fortune replacing my entire disc collection (25 years in accumulation) with downloads when there’s nothing wrong with what I’ve got already.

Some folk might read this and scowl at my antediluvian obstinacy. With other, perhaps older, readers it might chime.

It is quite normal to succumb to “adaptation fatigue:” that point when you say “oh blow it, I can’t be bothered to keep up anymore.”

You might stop trying to wear trendy clothes, or decide that maybe that 1970s/’80s/’90s decor in your house might just see you out (even though you could live for another 30 years!)

Gadgetry, though, is far and away the hardest to stay abreast of, not least because of the cost but also because it often requires you to pick up new technical skills.

Many are the chaps who used to like tinkering under the car bonnet but now rarely venture there because instead of polishing spark plugs, they are faced with microchips.

Folk who pre-date school IT lessons have found themselves disadvantaged over younger ones for whom all new technology appears ridiculously easy to master.

Some older people see this as a challenge and our silver surfers are a credit to themselves.

Others have asked “why on earth should I?” on the grounds of cost, complexity and apparent lack of necessity, but then found themselves increasingly marginalised, much to their annoyance.

Take residents in Standish who are demanding that Wigan Council returns to placing hard copies of planning applications in the library.

As a cost-saving measure, the authority took the decision a while ago only to publish such documents online.

There is no excuse not to be able to read them still because everyone has free access to computers at libraries.

But some residents, particularly older ones, find it a real pain to view them on a computer.

Some gladly admit to not knowing where the “on” button is, but others who have made an effort to stay in touch with technological advances, say it is still an inferior means of perusing the papers.

Not only does a document take an age to download, but it is also harder to flick to salient parts as you would if thumbing through paper pages.

I can sympathise here. If I really want to immerse myself in a detailed report, I am much happier if I can print it off. I’m told it’s not just me who thinks you can better take something in when it is on paper in front of you rather than on a screen. Silly, I know, but there you are.

There are printing facilities in libraries but at 10p a sheet, it soon mounts up if you want to run off a whole sheaf .

Some of you may think that it’s just hard luck for those who couldn’t be bothered to keep up and we shouldn’t pander to luddites. But it should also be remembered that a disproportionate number of older people are among our most politically active citizens while having less in their pockets to keep up with state-of-the-art wizardry.

They are also growing in number and should be ignored at our peril!

Surely it isn’t too much for the council to print off, for library use, a few extra copies of documents that are already handed out in paper form at planning meetings, just so that other interested parties aren’t disenfranchised?