“This may sound corny, but I know I learned more from them than they could ever learn from me…” Life @ 50 Boston Recap #MentorUp #LifeAt50 #AARPTEK


First… Let me just say, that this was my first time going to Boston… and it was really nice. The weather was great… the food was amazing… I wouldn’t mind going back…

However, that isn’t the point of this post.

I spent about 4 days working with Mentor Up and AARP TEK at the Life @ 50 event in Boston and I’d have to say it was really eye opening…

It was kind of like a Teen Summit for older adults…and they were pretty awesome…

This may sound corny, but I know I learned more from them than they could ever learn from me.

Most of my time was spent in the “Social Media/Selfie” booth. One thing I noticed? Older adults are really not that far behind technologically…well at least the ones I met. Most…if not all of them had smart phones…or iPads…or Kindles…and here I am with an iPhone 4s feeling so behind…

Anyways..

In my honest opinion…selfies and social media can be a bit intimidating. I say that because we all have a slight fear of the unknown. I had one woman tell me she was scared to make a Facebook because there is little to no privacy (which I can’t disagree there) and she was afraid that she would lose all of her investments…

You all may think that’s bizarre, but I received plenty of answers like that. It even made me a little sad. One couple came by and said, “We don’t take selfies because you always have to look good and we don’t wanna always have to look good to take a picture”. A lot of the older adults felt like selfies can cause self-esteem issues amongst the youth…which I can totally agree with….

BUT…there were plenty of older adults who wanted to take a selfie…just not by themselves.

Millenia with some of our Mentor Up Youth.

Millennia with some of our Mentor Up Youth.

Millennia, a talking social media promoting robot, was a RIOT! Everyone wanted to take a picture or dance or talk to Millennia…. It was pretty cool. For more information about who and what Millennia is… visit the International Robotics site… It’s pretty dope!

I had a few people come up and ask me how to download and use certain apps such as Facebook, Gmail and many others…someone even asked me to download the Bible app for them, which I thought was great! Also, I asked one man if he owned a smart phone so he could get a picture with Millennia and he replied, “Nope. I got me a dumb phone”…it took me 5 whole minutes to get what he was talking about and it still makes me laugh now…

The one woman that I learned from the most was someone who was totally against social media…at first.

She was 65 years old and had a pretty rough life story. I asked her if she owned a smart phone and she said yes so then I asked do you have a Facebook or a Twitter account. She looked at me as if I had asked her to birth my children.

Her response and “lecture” after that was what changed my perspective on older adults and social media. She said:

“What’s the point of having those things?! Yes, I know I can keep up with my grandchildren and yes, I know I can talk to my friends…BUT….I could also, pick up the phone and call them. You people know how to create twitter better and more efficient that you can do your times tables in your head! Where would you be without your precious technology?! How did you ever communicate before technology? I swear…you all need to learn math and science in your head before you Google everything. You all are spoon fed. I’m 65 and I have been where you all are now. You all haven’t seen how life is for me right now.”

Some would have been offended by what she said…actually, some were. But, strangely I wasn’t. I mean, before MySpace and Gmail and Facebook and Twitter…we used the house phone or just went to each other’s houses. I find myself being dependent on my phone or my laptop. And the sad reality is…I’m not the only one. However, I needed her to understand that technology may be scary…but it isn’t all bad.

I simply said…

“You know what? You’re right. We are dependent on technology…totally and completely. And yes, your kids and grandkids and friends can call you…but I think what people love about technology is that it’s fast and convenient. In the time it takes your grandkids to call you and probably get your voicemail, they can send you a text and you’ll receive it right then. Facebook is cool because you get to visually see what your friends and family are up to. There are privacy settings that can prevent the creeps from getting all of your information and YOU control what is put onto your profile. I hate to say it but social media is where the world is gravitating…and I wouldn’t want you to lose contact with those you love in the process. You’re so smart and witty…it would be nothing for you to pick up social media quickly and even become a wiz at it…just try and give it a chance”

She laughed and said she would let me set up a Facebook account as long as I added all of her friends and grandchildren (and this woman was POPULAR!)…then I had to adjust all of her privacy settings…

The expo was 2 weeks ago… You know that same woman is still on Facebook and she’s being careful and smart? It’s little things like that, that make me realize just how much I love my job and why I do this…

When aiding an older adult, be patient…THAT’S NUMBER ONE. It’s not that they’re “stupid”…that’s a complete myth… But, social media is something new and scary for some of them.

Overall feelings from the Expo?  Ecstatic. Exhausted. Anxious. Revitalized. Intrigued.

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