Old Dog, New Tricks

by George Lovell | | 0 comments

You are never too old to upgrade your phone, or use it to bank, book a flight, play a game, or any other kind of black magic.

Technology, like music, is a skill - perhaps even a language in itself. 

Learning a language is significantly easier in childhood than in adulthood because neuroplasticity decreases as we age. The younger; the better - Dutch, Germans and Scandinavians speak near-flawless English because they learn it from an early age. Those who start learning after age 10 struggle to become fluent. A person who migrates to another country after the age of 12 will retain their native accent - Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, and Sofia Vergara, for example. Our ability to learn a new language diminishes as we age, becoming very difficult after age 30. But not impossible.

I know plenty of people in their 50's/60's that grew up doing everything analog; on pen and paper, yet are remarkably competent with technology. Those who worked in the financial sector, for example, had no choice but to become proficient in Excel, email, mobile banking, video conferencing, and in some cases, artificial intelligence or blockchain - all at the tail-end of their careers.

There are many things - skills and experiences - that we put off because we foolishly assume that we'll be better equipped for them in the future - when we're older, less energetic, enthusiastic, resilient, flexible, and socially connected. Perhaps we think it's not worth the short-term pain that comes with sucking at something, or, worst of all, we think we're not capable. Either way, there's something to the notion of front-loading our learning rather than putting it off until later in life, because skills compound, lessons learned serve us for longer, and memories enrich the remainder of our lives.

In the case of technology, which permeates every aspect of modern life, you risk getting left behind, which only makes the catching up process more arduous. It's unfortunate, but undeniable: to lack basic technological literacy in 2024 is to sacrifice a degree of your independence, akin to living in a foreign country and without knowing any of the language.

Picking up technological proficiency later in life may seem like a formidable pursuit, but examples of older professionals rapidly adapting to new technologies proves that becoming adept with new "languages" can be achieved at any age. While full fluency and expertise may be quite difficult to attain as we age, that does not excuse an unwillingness to grasp the basics. A willingness to learn, plus a touch of patience, is all you need to start bridging the digital divide and empowering yourself in our increasingly tech-driven world.

You might be too old for skinny ripped jeans, but you're never too old to download an app. So stop putting it off. Speaking from experience - as a teacher of sorts - you'll wish you'd done it sooner, and you'll wonder what on earth you were so worried about!

Thanks for reading!

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