Being involved in many organizations, including my role as Rector’s Warden at St. Stephen Anglican Church in Summerland, and as a director of the BC Retired Teachers’ Association, I have been amazed at the remarkable adaptation of my peers to the computer and technological age. In my university days, computers ran Fortran with magnetic tape, were programmed with punch cards, and took up the whole basement of the Computer Science building. If you could program it to print your name you were considered a computer guru. The greatest ability required was to not drop the stack of three hundred punch cards because if you did then it was back to square one!
Computers have come a long way and so have my senior cohorts who can discuss coding, programming, hard-drive efficiency and memory capacities as if they were Primary teachers reading Dick and Jane books to their students. They keep in touch on Facebook and other communication platforms, text with dexterity, and are as attached to the latest model cell phone as any secondary school student. They know the latest types of laptops, notebooks, tablets and printers and are able to compete with the generations following us.
As for me, I have great difficulty programming the thermostat for the furnace at the spring and fall changeovers, I get frustrated trying to find the time or date on a computer screen, and I have fond memories of slaving away over a portable manual typewriter to write a paper for university classes. Remember those lovely typewriter erasers that you licked with your tongue and then promptly tore a hole in the page you were working on?
I am one of those sad, time-frozen old timers that still likes the feel of an analogue watch on my wrist – you know – the ones that have a self-wind mechanism that makes a clicking noise when you move your wrist! When I want to know the date or day of the week I like to go to the freebie wall calendar with garish colour photos of scenes of Canada, received from a local business. I also like to jot down my appointments on the calendar and see if I can fill in every date box. I love my landline telephone. The answering machine means I have the option of not returning calls if I don’t feel like it. I like to drive my car which does not require a university degree to decipher all the electronic gizmos. In my car, if you want heat, you slide a lever to the red mark, if you want to listen to the radio, you push a button, and if you want to back up you actually have to turn around and look out the back. (I have to admit that I am not particularly good at that of late, so watch out!!) I like to read a book that looks and feels like a book and I would rather read a Michael Connelly novel than emails and Facebook messages. I would rather take a walk or go for a sail than sit in front of a screen and a keypad.
But what is important for every retiree is to be engaged in activities that bring joy and fulfilment. Those who have become engaged in the wonders of technology are amazing people who demonstrate the value of continued learning, optimism for the future, and are taking advantage of improvements to their world. I am convinced that pretty soon we will be able to 3D print our own new organs for transplant as our originals wear out.
But for me there is still nothing better than a nice afternoon walk in the sunshine listening to my antiquated Sony Walkman MP3 with the music of the fifties, sixties, and seventies. I am locked in a time warp but I am happy!
Chair, Well-Being Committee