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  • Review of Home by Marilynne Robinson

    HomeHome by Marilynne Robinson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I loved Gilead by Marilynne Robinson so much. The review is here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/....

    But with Home, I had a different experience. I wasn't compelled through most of the book. At about the three-quarter mark, things started to happen and I felt my interest quicken. But here's a summary of my impressions, and my apologies to those who loved it so much they recommended it to me:

    1. I was disappointed to see this other, peevish, nasty side of Rev. Ames.
    2. I didn't like the Rev. Boughton very much at all.
    3. Jack is tedious and pathetic.
    4. Glory almost breaks free but then doesn't.

    Robinson really makes me wait for it, building my conflict between compassion and resentment for Jack. And just when I lose faith in him, there's a scene where the old misogynist/bigot Rev. Boughton asks to see Jack and his brother together in his room, and Jack insists Glory be included. As if he sees her as an equal to the men, rather than just the servant her father expects.

    In this, I felt Jack himself was a Rorschach test for the reader, in that while he seems almost feral, a man born without skin with which to hide himself from the world, easily wounded and always untrusting, you want to abandon him, but can you? If so, who are you? What are your values - what are your limits?

    So now Glory has decided to stop being codependent with her "fiancé", and switch her ministrations and self-sacrifice to her dying father and her feral brother. This is an arc? This is growth? What is Robinson's meaning, at the end of the story, when Glory decides to stay in a town she has said she hates, in a house she agrees to preserve as a monument/mausoleum to the family? It can only be read as failure to respect oneself in favor of service to others! This troubles me deeply.

    I apologize for the length of this next excerpt, but I have to reproduce it, because it's so telling:

    "(Glory) had tried to take care of (Jack), to help him, and from time to time he had let her believe she did. That old habit of hers, of making a kind of happiness for herself out of the thought that she could be his rescuer, when there was seldom much reason to believe that rescue would have any particular attraction for him. That old illusion that she could help her father with the grief Jack caused, the grief Jack was, when it was as far beyond her power to soothe or mitigate as the betrayal of Judas Iscariot. She had been alone with her parents when Jack left, and she had been alone with her father when he returned. There was a symmetry in that that might have seemed like design to her and beguiled her with the implication that their fates were indeed intertwined. Or returning herself to that silent house might simply have returned her to a s state of mind more appropriate to her adolescence. A lonely schoolgirl at thirty-eight. Now, there was a painful thought.

    "She recalled certain moments in which she could see that Jack had withdrawn from her and was looking through or beyond her, making some new appraisal of her trustworthiness, perhaps, or her usefulness, or simply and abruptly losing interest in her together with whatever else happened just then...She found no consistency in these moments, nothing she could interpret. He was himself. That is what their father had always said, and by it he had meant that Jack was jostled along in the stream of (the family's) vigor and purpose and their good intentions, their habits and certitudes, and was never really a part of any of it. He had eaten their food and slept beneath their roof, wearing the clothes and speaking the dialect of their slightly self-enamored and distinctly clerical family..."

    God! Who hasn't known people like this - men like this, children like this - who take and take and take from an ever-hopeful spouse or family and yet never seem quite able to be satisfied, or fulfilled, or happy! When all the sacrificial loving family member ever wants is for that feral person to be happy. Or at least safe.

    Like I said, Rorschach.

    And in this, I have to admit, Robinson delivers again, most profoundly, in pulling back the curtains and showing us, right down to the faint beat of a pulse along a pale wrist, the impact on a family of such a lone wolf. Not that the wolf doesn't suffer. Not that we don't all feel empathy as we struggle to surface from this mire, gulping and gasping air, sorry for Glory who remains below, yet intent on saving ourselves.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler

    The Beginner's GoodbyeThe Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    After reading some of the reviews, I felt a bit off-kilter, as if I'm seeing something that wasn't intended by the author.

    Nevertheless, here's my impression: this story is about a man who, because of his physical limitations, resists closeness with other people, to the point that he marries a woman who seems certain to want the same, arm's length relationship. It's only after she dies that he begins to sense that he was wrong about that. During the grieving process, he comes to realize he's been living an arm's-length life.

    I love stories about people who come out of a fog and change their lives, empowered by the realization that they've been missing something important - that their reasoning was flawed, but it doesn't have to remain that way. And Anne Tyler is such a great wordsmith, anything she writes is wonderful. This book is perhaps a bit too subtle to win the raving applause it deserves.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

    Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to LeadLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    As I read Lean In, I was intrigued at being able to get inside the head of a dynamic, smart woman who is one generation younger than me, and see the corporate world through her eyes. One of the cultural questions she answered for me was this: why are younger women so averse to the terms "feminist" and "feminism"? Apparently, Sheryl Sandberg and her contemporaries believe(d) the following:

    1. Equality having arrived, there's no need for feminism anymore
    2. Feminists are man-haters who resist makeup and the shaving of one's legs

    Okay, #2 was a bit tongue-in-cheek. However, having observed conditions in the real world for a few years now, Sandberg has come to see that the playing field is not and will not be level until more women occupy positions of power in the corporate hierarchy. She doesn't suggest that this is due to any malicious intent on the part of men, but rather it's simply a matter of ignorance.

    To illustrate, she describes having to park far away from her office door when hugely and uncomfortably pregnant. When she designated preferred parking spots to accommodate pregnant workers, no one complained. It was seen as logical. But prior to her taking her place in the C-suite, the issue hadn't been raised.

    Sandberg talks about not slowing down out of consideration for what might happen in the nebulous future. The example she gives, now famous, is of a young woman confiding her fears of not wanting to accept a job with a lot of responsibility due to the impact it might have on her family. The woman was planning ahead - she didn't even have a boyfriend yet.

    With this example, Sandberg makes the point that women, having been highly trained and educated, are waving off promotional opportunities. The jury is still out as to why, but she suggests, and I agree, that part of the reason is this: in corporate America, a woman's decision to go through pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and child-rearing is viewed as a private matter that should not impact her ability to work long hours and irregular schedules, including lengthy and frequent travel as needed. Rightly fearing this may drive her insane, a woman who wants a family may leap off the corporate ladder at a very early stage.

    Sandberg argues that if a young woman stayed on it long enough to secure a more powerful position, she would be able to exert more control over her work life (a perspective the young woman must trust will happen, since at her current low place on the corporate ladder she can only see her lack of power and control.) After a few promotions, she will be able to delegate some of her work to subordinates, afford more help at home, and influence workplace policies that unfairly impact women and families. Who can find fault with this argument?

    Sandberg is honest about her own mistakes, and I found that charming. For example, I was amazed that, for all her intelligence and education, she didn't originally intend to negotiate her starting salary with Facebook. Luckily a nice man (her husband) set her straight, and she made a counter offer to Zuckerberg. Reams of guidance have been written about how this error could have impeded her in later years, both at Facebook and with future employers, yet she didn't know. For other women who have not yet made this horrifying discovery, please read Ask for It by Babcock and Laschever (http://www.amazon.com/Ask-Women-Power...) which in addition to being enlightening and entertaining, offers tons of strategies for preparing yourself to negotiate. And not just for salaries. After reading that book I saved $150 on furniture I was going to buy anyway, by asking one question.

    But back to Lean In.

    I was also surprised that she wasn't well informed about how women can sabotage other women in the workplace, particularly women in power. This is an unfortunate truth with roots in biology, and is brilliantly explained in the amazing book, In the Company of Women by Heim and Murphy (http://www.amazon.com/Company-Women-I...) which I reviewed here:
    http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... This also suggests the reasons Sandberg was hit with such a backlash for the well-intentioned Lean In.

    There is so much more to say about Lean In, but let me close with this: I enjoyed learning how this stellar corporate executive struggled, made mistakes, and ultimately learned some strategies that will enable her, her family, and the women (and men) in her corporation to thrive. It's not perfect, and sometimes it's not even pretty, but part of the lesson is to let go of the need for perfection.

    The other message, younger women, is to get as far and as fast as you can before starting your families. Don't opt out just because it looks too hard from where you're sitting now. The view improves with each rung on the ladder.

    View all my reviews

FastCompany to Old People: You Must Be Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

“A Tablet So Simple, Even An Old Person Can Use It

Technology can be scary, with its buttons and beeps and boops.”

That’s the exact wording in a review by FastCompany of a new Claris product. (Update 7/6/13: the writer, Zak Stone, is not responsible for the headline.) It’s in poor taste, obviously, but it’s worse than that. I don’t think they’d ever say, “A Tablet So Simple, Even a Woman Can Use it,” because that would sound sexist. Or “A Tablet So Simple, Even a (insert ethnic minority here) Can Use It,” because that would sound racist.

But it’s okay to stereotype people due to their age, apparently.

Why FastCompany would choose to look so  unsophisticated and dense is beyond me. We’ve tried calling it to their attention. The Yo, Is This Ageist blog talked about it, but nothing changed. I thought it would be fair to email the editor, Morgan Clendaniel and tell him I planned to run this post with the above “stupid x 3” title, hoping he’d reconsider. We went back and forth a few times and then he stopped answering, so I have to assume he’s cool with it.

Here’s what he said.

You are, I think, unfairly putting into our mouths the most offensive option for why the tablet needs to be simple for seniors to use it. At no point do we say it’s stupidity, nor–emphatically–do we think it is…it was created for older consumers who are not so-called digital natives and who may be uncomfortable with the various bells and whistles–not to mention small type and ungainly interfaces–of the current crop of tablet computers and would like something more simple.
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You should also note that in a recent Pew Survey, only 1% of adults aged 66-74 and 74-85 said they owned a tablet. Nearly half of adults aged 74-85 don’t even own a cell phone. So the idea of technology being an alienating factor for older Americans isn’t just a myth made up by some snot-nosed kids. It’s a fact that Claris reader is trying to address. I assume they think they can sell a lot of tablets to that 99% who still don’t have one, and that they think that the reason those seniors don’t have one yet is that they’re too complicated.

Clendaniel’s statistics aside, he’s missing the point:

The headline is ageist.

What is ageism? Here’s a very brief definition that cuts to the chase:

…Another common instance of ageism is in the case of older adults or senior citizens, when they are portrayed in the media as being feeble or weak-minded (from the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

Clendaniel seems not to get it, but he’s not alone. Negative stereotyping of older people is the rule, not the exception. It’s so common it’s not even noticed. This concerns me; society seems oblivious. We’ve become quite knowledgeable about mistreatment of other protected groups, but not older folks. That should change, because ageism isn’t just stupid. It can lead to a waste of talent and resources from older people who can’t get hired and then have to go on the dole. That’s just one example. Ageism is discouraging, unfair,  cruel, and it can be illegal. You’d think big, fast companies would know that.

Leave a comment

147 Comments

  1. I for one, agree with you completely – and would encourage all those who read your blog, follow your lead and send a little message to Fast Company. Consider me onboard with a helluva lot more energy and acumen than this ad intimates.

    Reply
  2. A decade ago, my mother, then in her early 70s asked me “Sharon — do you think I could work a computer.” My response — “Of course you could! What do you want to do with it?” “E-mail,” was the response…
    “My friend Gladys gets e-mail!”

    I sent her to Gateway when they had bricks and mortar stores and she went to at least two classes. She is 83 and still defrags her own computer. I clear out her internet cache. She loves her e-mil, happily complains about spam, uses Snopes now to check on those dire warnings her girlfriends pass on, and has her own FB page. She also designs and makes all of her own greeting cards which she personalizes fr riends and family. And that “stupid” senior has found, on her own, a computer repairman who is SO good that I drove an hour to leave my laptop with her so that he could fix it for me.

    My point is — if I had been at all negative when she asked me her initial question, none of this would be happening, She might still consider purchasing a tablet — but not if she sees that negative advertising from Fast Company first. And I can vouch that her friends wouldn’t either. Clendaniel shows a typical disconnect with his poor attitude — and that is, it’s pointless to quote statistics if you don’t know your audience/market. Imply that this group of people are stupid to begin with and they’ll avoid your product like the plague. I’m seriously thinking of writing an explanation of this phenomenon, but I’ll have to make it so simple that even a self-absorbed uniformed CEO could understand it…

    Reply
    • You had me nodding but now i’m cracking up! Good ending. To be fair, he didn’t use the word stupid except to riff on the issue I raised. But as for your mom seeing that headline, here’s a fact: recent research showed that a group of older peeps who were told negative things about age had poorer memory than the peeps who were told positive things. It affected their ability to remember and recall. I think that’s profound. PS Your mom is lucky to have such a good daughter.

      Reply
    • OH Jesus this is awesome!!!

      Reply
  3. Negative stereotyping is exasperating. While it is true that there are many 65+ Americans who have no interest in technology, I cannot understand why a company [who theoretically wants to make money] would want to alienate those people [with the money] who do want to learn about computers, phones, tablets, etc. Baffling + stupid.

    Reply
    • Yah, that confuses me too. Money should be compelling, right? But even when certain industries KNOW who has the money, they still go after a less monied demographic. Ex: older women will spend money on clothes, but the clothing industry mostly wants to make and sell crop tops and skinny jeans to a nubile demo. I don’t get it.

      Reply
  4. You know, I used to work at Apple…I trained people how to use their new devices…iPads, iPhones & Macs. The majority of customers I taught were over 50 – and they were willing to listen and learn. And now when I walk into Best Buy as a customer and I have to train the blue shirt (that’s younger than my children) how the technology he’s trying to sell me actually works, I have to wonder how this stereotype of us Boomers actually exists.

    Reply
    • Talk it up, Sage. That ageist attitude will fade as we Boomers and Seniors talk about this very thing. BTW, your description of the Best Buy experience had me chuckling.

      Reply
      • I was chuckling too. I had the same experience years ago in a Best Buy, and I haven’t gone back since. Some young clerk tried to sell me a dumbed-down computer. I said that wouldn’t work for me since–at the time–one thing I used my computer for was telecommuting one day a week on my job as a technical writer and editor at a federal agency. Then I went and bought a new computer somewhere else.

        Reply
  5. Fantastic post and I agree with you whole-heartedly, albeit that I do not yet consider myself “old” and probably therefore by that very statement I am being just as ageist as the editor you describe. “Middle-age” gets given a wider span of years, and in fact I have only really admitted that I may nearly have reached that middle age-bracket myself (I am 59). I do not know why we all fight this categorization, but we do.
    Nevertheless, I am looking forward to continuing to contribute as I age.

    Reply
    • We fight it because it’s so associated with negativity. If we celebrated what’s good about being old, like bilateralization (http://suite101.com/article/our-aging-brains-bilateralization-and-cognitive-reserve-a302663), maybe old would be valued for depth and complexity rather than saggy skin.

      Reply
      • Interesting article and it does ring true. I am lucky to have good role model. My own mother achieved more in the years 65 to 85 (in the creative sense) than in her younger years, although I suppose in some ways the gender bias does come into it. Women spend their younger years in child-rearing and ‘coping’; and it is only in later years can really spread their wings (if they have the courage to do so).
        You have a great blog. I am enjoying following.

        Reply
  6. Snoring Dog Studio

     /  June 28, 2013

    Clendaniel’s an ass – An ASS! I am fuming. Just because older people don’t own a friggin’ tablet doesn’t mean they don’t “get” technology. And what a condescending response. I’d have been less concerned if the ageist statement had been made by a “snot-nosed kid” rather than an adult who ought to know better.

    Reply
  7. Snoring Dog Studio

     /  June 28, 2013

    Just left a comment on the article at Fast Company and posted something about it on Facebook.

    Reply
  8. How condescending and even after it is pointed out to them, they still don’t get it. Even an old person?? Unbelievable.

    Reply
  9. I write for an online newspaper. We were asking people if they wanted to receive emails letting them know about our posts. Many **older** people did say they had no computer, but quite a few said they did have one. I also work for a travel book publisher, constantly trouble-shooting computer and website related issues.
    Funny, between the newspaper and book publisher, all six of us are 60+.
    Excuse me, while I lambast Fast Company.

    Reply
    • It’s almost not even an issue whether some people might need it or not. In fact, people of any age might find it useful. Its just the blanket assumption that old people are simple that is so insulting. Thanks for your comments, glad you stopped by.

      Reply
  10. I agree with Sharon L. To market something saying “this is so simple even someone like you could use it” is so insulting, who on earth would consider buying that product. Nobody wants to feel like they are simpleminded! My 95-year-old Dad uses a Mac to create incredible fusion images from his photography. He still has exhibits all over the place of his work and is constantly learning new software and new techniques. He “Googles” stuff to find out more about things he hears and gets clip art online. He loves the challenge of learning new digital tools. Horrible, horrible, insulting marketing….but, good for a laugh 😉

    Reply
  11. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Lynne. I’ve been feeling some of that myself. I think the regard for the wisdom that comes with age and lived experience went extinct with the advent of google. Who needs a grandmother’s opinion about anything when you can google babies.com?

    Reply
  12. Good for you, Lynne! More people ought to be concerned with ageism — after all, if we’re lucky, we’ll all get old one day!

    Reply
  13. There is real ageism and there is marketing products or services to the 50+ demographic.. I believe that this new product ‘claris companion’ an i pad made simple has good intentions. The real problem is the wrong words are being used by the Fast Company marketing people to sell the product. Fast Company declares that the average age of their users of the new product is 86 years old where there is a high probability that high Tech products is not universally accepted. So, let’s encourage more companies to develop senior friendly products and/or services. In this new ‘robotics/ high Tech age’ seniors will be in place to benefit and make life somewhat easier for every senior.

    By the way does anybody remember the ‘Web TV Computer’ where you didn’t need a computer to use it. All you needed was a regular TV which served as the monitor and have an easy access to the Internet. You were supplied with a keyboard and a black box and the cable to connect to your regular TV. Well, I didn’t have a computer at that time but was able to use this device for 5-years without all the complexities of a regular computer. So, I suggest that everyone keep an open mind and hope that there will be many MORE products that older seniors can use that will enable them to engage more with our high tech based Society.

    Reply
    • Joe, I was in enthusiastic agreement with everything you said until your last sentence. My mind is open. That’s why I not only told FastCompany I thought the Claris product was a good idea, but I pointed out in my post that even younger people who have limitations might find it useful. My sole concern was the title of their article, in that it was a prima facie case of age-related negative stereotyping. It’s a good goal; let’s hope the clumsy treatment by FC won’t spoil everything for Claris.

      Reply
      • Lynne,
        I still think that it’s part of their Marketing ploy to get the necessary attention. How many times have we been told that whether we get a good reaction OR a bad reaction the business game is just to get recognized and go from there. There are many articles and/or new books that have terrific content but might not be recognized easily because the title is too bland and as a result doesn’t stand out. I’d like to say something else if I’m permitted to. You mention that WordPress is going to feature this post within a few days. My opinion is that if there was no controversy this post would probably be labelled as the same as all the others, and as a result it would not create the interest that it has now because of the different title. It should be very interesting what transpires after the WordPress feature. I’d like to keep in touch on this one.

        Take Care!

        Joe W.

        Reply
        • Yes, you’re right, Joe, and I confess I used the Forrest Gump quote to draw attention myself. So, guilty. Stay in touch.

          Reply
  14. Sorcha Sinclair

     /  June 29, 2013

    Maybe I will write an article about the multitude of tasks and skills a “digital native” would not know how to perform, or might never have even heard of. If the power goes out someday, this senior woman and her senior husband will know how to survive and thrive, while the under 35 set will be left weeping and stabbing their fingers at their now-dead devices…..who’s laughing now, kids? (BTW, our house is filled with laptops, tablets, and smartphones that we operate quite expertly, thank you!)

    Reply
    • Sorcha, you’ve got me laughing, but to get serious for one second, ageism cuts both ways. We older peeps can’t fall into the same trap. Although I enjoyed your picture of “weeping and stabbing their fingers at their long-dead devices”!

      Reply
  15. Hi Lynne,
    I love your blog, and normally am completely aligned with your viewpoint, but this time I agree more with Joe. I too think it is great that products are being developed for this forgotten demographic.

    Think about all of those very successful books “——- For Dummies”. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would buy a book that identified the purchaser as dumb, but apparently enough did to encourage MORE books to be created with that title.

    By the way, I tried (unsuccessfully) to teach my 86 year old mother to use a computer, then a Kindle Fire. She told me I was a lousy teacher, despite the fact that in the ’80s, I was repeatedly asked to teach (male) executives how to do email, because I was so patient and non-threatening. My mom would definitely NOT be insulted by this ad–in fact, I might take a look at it to see if it is worth yet another try!

    Reply
    • Shelley, ditto with my mom, who turns 88 tomorrow. But if you’ll recheck my response to Joe, I told him I agreed with everything he said except that he had missed the point: the headline, and that alone, is ageist. Not the article itself, or the fact that Claris wants to sell to a particular group. The fact is, some people lose capability as they age. Maybe even most. But categorizing them (again, in the headline) as ALL being simple is ageist. This is why ageism happens – we haven’t talked about it enough to feel like we know what it is. So I hope you’ll feel comfortable with my explanation, and keep loving my blog!

      Reply
  16. Just like Rodney Dangerfield used to say “We don’t get no respect!”

    I was reading a blog a few weeks ago where the “young techie” said, “Even a stupid hippie could get this.” I wrote back and said, “Excuse me, but what’s your definition of a hippie? Most of the hippies I knew were pretty damn intelligent and probably helped you become who you are in a sense.” Then I clicked unsubscribe. Thanks, but no thanks, kid!

    Now, off to find that Fast company article. Thanks, Lynne!

    Reply
    • A stupid hippie? Most of them were ahead of their time on things like environmentalism, population control, organic farming, etc. I think the young techie personifies ignorance. Poor kid.

      Reply
  17. Ageist or not (I agree that it is), the slogan is baffling from a marketing perspective. What is the target demographic?

    When advertisers use “. . . even a ____ can use it” phrasing, there is an implicit, ” . . . but it will be good for YOU, too.”

    I paused to consider that maybe they were targeting an older population (75+), using language that is more acceptable to them than a more sensitive Boomer population can understand (yet), but of the 75+ year olds that I know, who are pretty tough cookies who take such things in stride, refer to themselves proudly as “old people” and who laugh at themselves all the time, I don’t imagine any of them jumping at this.

    Oh, darn it all. Why did I read this? Now I’m going to have to break my vow of unplugging and write a post. . .

    🙂

    Reply
    • I know! That’s what happened to me after Ashton Applewhite posted this news originally. But to your point, I’m sure Claris is bummed out. I don’t know if they asked FastCompany to review the product, but if they had hired an ad firm to design a campaign to drive away customers, this could do it.

      Reply
  18. riscorick

     /  June 29, 2013

    FastCompany had a Laura Deen moment with that article. They’re so young, self-satisfied, and self-involved they don’t actually know what they did wrong. If they had a few 60+ year olds on their editorial team, someone might have clued them in. But they probably think they’re way too cool to work with anybody much older than 35. I find the magazine barely readable, sacrificing substance for style in almost every element. When my subscription runs out, I will not renew.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Rick. That’s interesting to hear from your perspective as a longtime reader of their magazine. I don’t want to be ageist toward young peeps but their website doesn’t demonstrate much diversity. (Putting it lightly.) WordPress.com is going to feature this post within a few days. Should be lively. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
      • riscorick

         /  June 29, 2013

        Paula Deen! I can’t believe I wrote that after talking about Paula Deen all week.

        Reply
  19. What a sad way for FastCompany to discuss old people. Glad you mentioned this on wordpress! Do you think that FastCompany will say they are sorry about this?

    Reply
    • It was nice of WordPress.com to feature it so more people saw it, wasn’t it? Re: FC, I think they don’t see it as a big deal. Some old broad (moi) nattered at them. Big deal. If FC cared about it, they would quietly change their page but they haven’t, so that’s their message: we don’t get it, and we don’t care. It’s probably driving Claris crazy.

      Reply
  20. Bearded Bow Tie Guy

     /  June 30, 2013

    I just watched a documentary called Arctic Son about First Nation people in Canada’s Yukon Territory. One man said, “There are no more elders, just old people,” meaning that Western culture doesn’t give elders their earned place in society.

    Ageism is the devaluing of folks over 50, and as Baby Boomers reach their retirement years I hope to see ageism brought to the forefront of civil rights concerns. It’s in everybody’s interest because we’ll all be there one day.

    Reply
    • Hi BBTG, I’m hoping that too. I’m assuming that with our numbers, we can reach critical mass and pretty soon we’ll get across the message that negative stereotyping is a waste of resources and a burden on society. So I’m doing my part, honking about ageism. Thanks for your thoughts.

      Reply
  21. Celena G.

     /  June 30, 2013

    I agree w/ you. The response baffles me, too. I mean, whether it was MEANT that way or not, REGARDLESS, that is how many are taking it. Wouldn’t they want to issue an apology and then immediately do something about it? Or is that just me using logic here?

    Reply
    • Celena, when I was younger I defended pointless territory, just as this editor is. How much simpler if he’d just said, “Wow, I didn’t mean it that way at all, but I see what you mean. I’m going to tinker with it a bit. Thanks.” But he was uncomfortable, probably, and stood his ground. I like being older. I know what ground to protect, and what to walk away from. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
      • Celena G.

         /  June 30, 2013

        Well may this be a learning experience for him, even if it takes quite some time to actually realize he’s learned anything.

        Reply
        • You know, Celena, I don’t feel animosity toward Morgan Clendaniel. In fact, I feel sympathy for him. I’ll assume his defensiveness is due to youth and not because he’s a jerk, and he just needs to learn when to fish and when to cut bait. I am disturbed, however, that it isn’t getting any more airtime than it is. The article’s headline is unchanged, and only this blog and WordPress.com are talking about it.

          Reply
          • Celena G.

             /  June 30, 2013

            I can’t say I’m surprised — sometimes, people express outrage & yet it just doesn’t matter. It is similar to the Redskins controversy. You would think that with many Native Americans claiming that ‘Redskin’ is akin to the ‘N-word’ that the name would be changed, but it never was. Which is very strange considering this Paula Deen mess, but I digress.

  22. We live in England and ageism is rife here too. My husband and I are both in our late sixties and recently bought a smart TV. After using it for a few weeks we decided it was too fiddly to to type out internet searches on screen using the TV remote control buttons and arrows. We went back to the shop which deals with all kinds of technological gadgets and asked for a wirefree mouse. The shop staff laughed at us and said we couldn’t use that with the TV and we’d need to buy an expensive wirefree keyboard instead. I bought the cheap mouse and guess what? It works perfectly as we knew it would. We can still teach the young ones a thing or two.

    Reply
  23. meh. Just don’t buy the damn thing.

    Reply
  24. I agree. Thank you for running this post and standing up for ageism. My 74 year old grandma has a nook and can surf the web like nobodies business.

    Reply
    • Thanks for saying that, BW. She sounds on top of things. I wish my 88-year-old mother could access the Internet.

      Reply
      • My mom on the other hand at 49 will call me at any hour to ask how to find google. I think it is more about.the person than the age.

        Reply
  25. Uncle Kenny

     /  June 30, 2013

    “We’ve become quite knowledgeable about mistreatment of other protected groups … ”

    No, what is sad is that the notion of “protected groups” exists at all. Some older people are technologically incompetent. Some are not. Because some are, a marketing niche exists for “Fisher Price” tablets. Welcome to individual differences. The hipster children at Fast Company certainly need a spanking, but not because old folks are a “protected group” or ought to be. Spare us 60-somethings your protection, please

    Reply
  26. Reblogged this on BKM Car and Limo.

    Reply
  27. It’s interesting that I came across this today. HP and I were discussing how people like ‘old’ cars, vintage vases, and various antiques –> but have little appreciation for the elderly. I was going to write a post about it (and still may), but your post touches on my main point: people’s disrespect for what/who they don’t find ‘useful’.
    This was an interesting and enjoyable post to read; thank you.

    Reply
  28. Don’t worry, bigots, if it (finally, blissfully) goes out of style to stereotype and disrespect people of a certain age or sexual orientation, you will always have people of size to fall back on. It’s okay to hate fat people because every single one of them chose to be that way and that makes them morally and ethically perverse, right?

    Oh, man, if they ever come up with an Idiocy Antidote, I may finally break down and buy a dart gun.

    Reply
  29. Ramona

     /  June 30, 2013

    It baffles me that a company would think this is good advertising. Great post!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Ramona. It’s worse than that. FastCompany wrote up a review, and I suspect Claris is cringing. At least, I hope they are.

      Reply
  30. Thanks for posting about this; I share your outrage, but in a more muted way–seems like they had good intentions but really blew their approach. I’m wondering how the reviewer could have approached this in a way that wasn’t pandering to older people who aren’t technologically-savvy. Perhaps if he’d used a personal viewpoint and cited his own great-aunt, or grandmother, or even mother, for example, and not made sweeping generalizations, he could have made his point and scored some, too. Those sweeping generalizations get people in trouble all the time.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Jann. You are one of the few who expressed it so succinctly – it’s not that some people wouldn’t find it an extremely useful device. It’s that FastCompany implies that ALL old people require simple devices. And when I politely drew that point to their attention, they became defensive and angry. Kind of childish. My mom who is 88 would probably find this device useful. It’s not the fault of Claris that FC gave the review such an offensive title.

      Reply
  31. This post was a hoot along with most of the anecdotal comments. Kudos to you for posting the company’s response(s) to your complaints. It’s good to hear both sides of an argument, though sadly it didn’t really put the company in question in a better light.

    I think marketing would be a lot different if the pushers of such products performed their commercials or read their ads in front of a mirror, first. Would I buy something from someone who implied I was too dense to understand a regular version of the product? No! If, however, a friendly advert informed me the product would do only what I needed it to do without a lot of extra features, rigamarole, and finagling I’d probably be interested. Frankly, I’m not a senior citizen, but it’s all those “bells and whistles” that make me hate most technology. I can admit this, openly, but I won’t go so far as to say I’m simple-minded, just practical.

    I think the overall issue with marketing is it tends to have such a narrow target that it pigeon-holes its audience. I can think of tons of ads that imply various groups are stupid: seniors, single men, young girls, teenagers in general… How calling it marketing/advertising makes this not offensive is beyond me. Furthermore, if we really are so stupid, behind the times, and out-of-date, why do we really need to buy more things?

    Reply
    • Hey Jason, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I didn’t want to do a “GOTCHA!” post. I figured if I described the situation from my perspective, FastCompany would say, “Oops! Thanks for that. Fixing it now.” But sadly, no. And it’s also a bummer for Claris, which didn’t, I assume, approve this headline or have anything to do with it. So everybody loses. All I can hope is that people learn to judge each other individually rather than stereotypically, whether the target is young or old.

      Reply
  32. LACK of respect for elders & wisdom runs rampant these days..Shame on FastCompany for giving proof positive of that! I taught my parents how to text a couple years ago. They’re in their early 70s and both are completely! computer literate. My eldest son taught me how to text years back..And I can trouble shoot almost any computer issue(with no IT schooling..) I’m glad WordPress lifted this post UP..The entire world will SEE that F.C. doesn’t respect its elders. NO ONE is ever to old to learn long as there is breath in their body. And FastCompany could stand to learn a thing or 2 from elders..Like for instance?!? Don’t mess with someone smart enough to NOT accept when wrong is wrong; even if it comes from a reputable organization. 2 thumbs UP for speaking UP and double that for writing this post.

    Reply
    • Berna, thanks so much for your supportive comment. PS my son taught me about texting, too; said it was more reliable in areas where reception was poorer. He and I and our respective spouses were making our way northward through central Calif. at the time in separate cars. Texting was the only way to communicate between cars.

      Reply
      • Smart son you have! And yes texting is possible when sometimes signals don’t allow a call to get through..My eldest taught me to text waybackintheday because it allowed him to multi-task and do 50 things at one time! And he could connect to me daily; without incurring long distance bills. That was long before cell unlimited packages became common place. From the mouths of babes so much we learn, huh? 🙂

        Reply
  33. I’m a Gen Xer that does a lot of tech support for my family, but I was shocked how insulting that FastCompany headline was. My grandparents own a desktop computer they don’t use anymore (granted, it’s running Windows Millenium). But although I have gripes about their stubborn and busybody quirks that sometimes got worse with e-mail (Grandpa used to fill my Inbox with political tripe), I would not DARE to insult them in such a fashion. They might find this tablet useful, or they might not, but such marketing is out of line.

    Ironically, I think a lot of this will gather more attention for the Claris Companion, but hopefully, only for the benefit for Claris Healthcare, and not for FastCompany, who I think still needs to be humbled.

    Reply
    • Jak, thanks for your comment. I hope Claris doesn’t suffer – they have the right to develop a product and market it to whomever, without some reviewer shooting them in the foot. FastCompany still seems adamantly oblivious. (So cool to hear about you helping your old peeps.)

      Reply
  34. I went back and watched the video again, and I think that the title is not the only problem with the ad. The business about the blood glucose test is appalling.

    For one thing someone programmed the devise to remind the mother when to take the test–but based on what? Generally, a person with diabetes would test blood glucose an hour-and-a-half to two hours after a meal or before exercising–not at some arbitrary time in the morning.

    And when she gets that reminder, the mother touches the Show Me icon. Hasn’t she been doing this for awhile? And now she doesn’t remember how to put the test strip into the meter until she sees it on the device?

    Finally, she puts the test strip in the meter but doesn’t prick her finger to get some blood and put it up to the test strip. I don’t get how this can be at all helpful.

    Reply
    • Madeleine, I didn’t watch the video but it sounds like you’ve got some expertise about diabetes. I bow to your opinion on this.

      Reply
  35. I’m glad you bring this up.

    It reminds me of a few things. One, that so-called “digital natives,” although very comfortable with technology, often know very little about how to use it aside from extremely simple applications. Two, maybe fewer seniors use technology because, frankly, why? They never needed it before. Why exactly do they need it now? One thing you get from living a long time is additional commonsense, and many of us labor under the delusion that we need all of the latest toys because we don’t have enough still, and have more money than sense.

    Reply
    • Speaking of money, Ashana, one commentor said maybe the reason seniors and elders haven’t embraced tablets is because they can’t afford the damned things.

      Reply
      • Well, maybe also see them as a waste of money. My grandmother didn’t even like to use the dryer.

        I was also thinking that making people feel stupid usually gets them to buy things…

        Reply
        • EXACTLY. Thank you. And also, with the stigma of being old in this country, that’s not exactly flypaper either.

          Reply
  36. Most of the people who invented the technology this tablet runs on — things like the Internet and integrated circuits — are “old people” today.

    Have you seen Grandma Got STEM? It’s a pretty awesome blog started by someone who was sick of hearing “could you explain this to your grandmother?”

    Reply
    • Hi, Laura, No, I haven’t see that blog but it sounds intriguing. Going there now. BTW my first laptop was all DOS, all the time. What a hassle.

      Reply
  37. I teach technology to all of those who want more skills, the average age of my clients, 85. Of course, I have 20 year olds who come to me and 105 y.o. . . and then do a ton more in the Caregiving Tech world. I would love to see the focus on technology as a connection tool. Fast Company def messed up on their marketing language. Each of us connects in a different way. One of my clients is in an assisted living community, his wife in another and their children on the west coast – tech allows them to video chat 2x week. I had to fight with the community to explain how technology would bring him this connection. Its a brilliant connection tool for some. Its important to ask what people want not forcing our different ways on them and of course not assuming anything. I chat with former oil execs and attorneys and surgeons who are in their 90’s wanting to connect. This is our greatest generation, the folks who created the supercomputer and the foundation for iPads and gadgets to even exist. All people deserve respect. Its our job to speak up when we hear things that aren’t right. But then, on the flip side, I heard the most condescending spiel towards old adults via Don Rickel at the AARP convention. I see comments up above about kids and 30-somethings above that seem a little off. At the LivePitch AARP, a group of 8 year olds presented a software program on stage and got a lot of ooohing and aaahing on how cute that some little kids have an idea. Or, what if we are not married at a certain age? Or, we are supposed to graduate at a specific age? Each decade seems to have their own expectations, right? So is it right to hold people to these societal expectations?

    Reply
    • Thank you, Becca, for putting the entire issue into commonsense words. Yes, ageism cuts both ways. Young people are victims of it as well as older, and even more so in this sense: Federal law prohibits illegal discrimination against people over forty, but age discrimination can be directed against youth, and they have no protection. (However, older peeps are more likely to be victimized, and at a monetary cost). I had heard that assisted living places were starting to get pressure to offer WiFi. I’m glad for the connectivity now available to the old folks you mentioned. How horrible to never be able to see each other again, only talk by phone, in the case of the spouses. And several commentors have mentioned that the older generation DID create the foundation for all the electronics of today. Your comment is so thoughtful, I hope you’ll visit often. We at AST could benefit from your perspective.

      Reply
  38. Thanks for standing up for this cause- every day we get older, and I would not enjoy if a younger generation made such sweeping statements about me, even if it is in the distant future!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Rider. Some day, hopefully soon, we’ll be more tuned in to the damage done by our “innocent” words. Until then, let’s talk it up.

      Reply
  39. I loved the blog! We are the generation that created computers. In the 70’s we brought the web to life for everyone. Not all of us are computer illiterate. Thanks for adding to our voice!

    Reply
  40. At fifty-five, I think I’m in the category this…”journalist” was writing about.

    Some of my IC designs are in space headed for the edge of the solar system, but I guess the buttons, beeps and boops are scary…even for a guy who was a Marine in his “youth.” Oh wait, they aren’t scary.

    It’s easy to get confused at my age…

    What a boob.

    Reply
  41. There are plenty of older people out there that know how to use the Internet, some of them even have Facebooks. Some of them probably use the Internet more than the new generation of Twenty-Somethings. On the other hand, there are a large amount of older people that choose not to use newer technology. If you are retired and not in the workforce anymore, it is a choice. Anyone in the workforce doesn’t have a choice but to convert to this technological lifestyle, maybe not even arguably. I think you hit the nail on the head. This is just bad marketing and I don’t think it’s going to make an “older” person run out to the store and buy this product if they were not going to already. Good job.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Hitch. I contacted Claris to make sure they knew FC had used such a damning heading for their review. Hope to hear back shortly.

      Reply
  42. While I get that FastCompany is trying to target older customers by making things streamlined & approachable, they definitely went about it in the wrong way. With parents in their 50’s & 60’s, I know how all of the latest & greatest tech can be confusing. But they could’ve found a better way to appeal to older consumers in a way that didn’t come across as, “Hey old people! Are you scared by all this new-fangled, high-tech gadgetry? Well here’s something so easy even you can’t mess it up!”

    Reply
  43. I like your insight on aging. Here in Northern California it does my heart good to go into the local Apple Store —fully half of the customers are over the age of 55, and a third of them are over 70 years old. I do believe that as long as we continue to improve our skills and work with others, we will be useful members of society and not a burden to the rest of the world.

    Reply
  44. Agreed. Then again, at the tender age of 40, I find myself asking a friend’s teenage son which apps he likes…

    Reply
  45. I totally agree, this company is treating the Eldrely like children or toddlers. My business installs Security Systems and often we provide services to an Elderly client. They may ask a few more quesions or be a little more anxious but with proper training they are just as capable as any other adult. Maybe this company doesn’t want to have to invest in providing service after the sale .

    Reply
    • B, I should point out it isn’t the manufacturer that made these comments. They’re trying to sell to a portion of the older demographic. It was a reviewer, a big and important magazine (FastCompany) that wrote the article, and the editor, Morgan Clendaniel, who wrote the headline. Thanks for weighing in.

      Reply
  46. Hi everyone, I’m one of the developers of Claris Companion.
    I just wanted to thank you all for your comments and let you know that we respect our older generations immensely. This product was created by our 55-year-old co-founder whose 92-year-old mother (living on her own) was being left out of family conversations online. He wanted to be able to help her manage her own health care and generally know that she’s okay.
    We’ve spent a lot of time speaking with older adults to understand their needs. We’ve worked with a team of gerontologists to ensure the Companion was accessible to people 90+ and those with visual, auditory and motor skill impairments including arthritis. The average age of our user-base is currently 84 with little to no previous computer experience. Their family members have tried to get them to use computers in the past but haven’t been successful. We’re pleased to report that thanks to the Companion, many of these users are able to stay connected with their families online and manage their own care for the first time.
    We don’t believe that older seniors are not tech-savvy, we’re simply trying to help those that have no experience, no interest or just have better things to do than learn how to use technology that wasn’t designed for them in mind.If you’d like to speak further about our research and our approach, feel free to contact us through our website.

    Reply
    • Kara, thanks for coming by. If you’d like to use my blog this Friday to offset the bad impression given to your product by FastCompany, I’ll definitely consider it.

      Reply
  47. Great read! Thanks for posting. Ageism is a huge problem that not only affects how we see and identify with older adults, but ultimately how we treat them.

    Reply
    • And ageism isn’t specific to older age, either. It can be applied just as cruelly to the young as well.

      Reply
  48. Many older adults can work circles around younger adults, and not because the younger generation isn’t willing to work as hard. Take those two groups and mix the talent and you will win have a winning combination every single time. Try utilizing one set group and you will come up short. I’ve worked with computers since 1980, if I need teaching, I don’t want it from a compromised electronic gadget, I want a young whopper-snapper showing me the ropes. In trade, I will cross-train and teach time management skills that took years to learn.

    Reply
    • Coffee, that’s so beautiful. You’re exactly right. The key to open-mindedness is your very first word: many. It allows for variations within the demographic. Not “all” young peeps are X, and not “all” old peeps are Y. Etc. Mostly I really like how you see peoples’ talent as a resource, regardless of age. Too valuable to waste due to prejudice.

      Reply
  49. If you think this ad was bad, how about last night’s news? The very youthful (71) Mitch McConnell said “Don’t tell me Democrats are the party of the future when their presidential ticket for 2016 is shaping up to look like a rerun of the ‘Golden Girls”. Wow, a trifecta–ageist, sexist and clueless–all in one fell swoop. I can work up some anger over THAT comment.
    By the way, Mitch could learn a thing or two from the Golden Girls–they, at least, knew how to work together and solve problems.

    Reply
  50. Reblogged this on The New Playground.

    Reply
  51. Melissa Ford

     /  July 2, 2013

    Lynn –

    Is there any way you can add social media icons to your blog posts? They are so fantastic (and as a coach) I want to get them out on my FB page so people can read them.

    Thanks – Melissa Ford

    Reply
    • Oh, I know, Melissa. It bugs me too. I use WordPress.com and it’s not offered. I’d been thinking I should bite the bullet and convert Any Shiny Thing to WordPress.org in order to get the plugins. Thanks for the reminder.

      Reply
  52. Many seniors don’t buy technology because they have no need of it. We’re more interested in getting rid of the unneeded junk, not acquiring more of it. We’re pretty much immune to advertising that tries to sell us something we don’t need. And many of us have realized that consuming for the sake of being cool is about as boring and irrelevant as it gets.

    Reply
    • Lots of truth in what you say, Karl, but being online has its benefits, too. I just read that seniors who are on the Internet are 20-28% less likely to be diagnosed with depression. I think my 88-year-old mom, with her curious mind, would love to be able to access the web but it would be a pretty steep learning curve, and her fingers aren’t very agile. But a lot of seniors can’t afford either a computer or an internet connection.

      Reply
      • Being online certainly does have its benefits. But it is also dangerous. If you’re 21 and have $100 in your bank account, getting hacked is not a big concern. If you’ve a lifetime of savings in the bank, getting your financial trail hacked is, at the very least, nerve-wracking, and probably worse. There is, for example, software that can infer, with a very high degree of accuracy, a person’s social security number from information posted on Facebook. Seniors are already targets of scams and frauds, and being online makes it worse. Seniors don’t need “simple” technology. They need technology “So complex not even the Russian Mafia can hack it”. The ageism in the headline is bad. So is making seniors feel they are safe being online. Persons helping older adults get online need to be very, very sure that their online presence is very well protected.

        Reply
        • Awesome point about security, Karl. Seniors are already a target. I wonder if Claris’ software has addressed this? I know Kara will be checking in over the next few days to respond to some of our comments, so hopefully Claris will answer your (our) question.

          Reply
  53. Wow, what a gross “oversight” on that headline by Fast Company. I think there’s another brutal reality as one ages and lives on a retirement income: you can’t afford to buy every few years, the latest technology tool. So one sticks to their desktop or laptop computer. It costs money to have a new digital (and better) camera, desktop/laptop, cell phone.

    My partner is part of the university educated retirees –with an engineering degree AND MBA. We’ve been together for 22 years and during that time he’s had:

    3 different desktop computers
    1 Apple laptop
    3 different digital cameras
    1 bicycle helmet camera
    1 cell phone (he only activates it when he bikes solo across North America).

    He designs his own web site and has a blog too.

    He has used all his technologies well.
    He is….70 yrs. old. But now he is carefully plotting when he buys his next desktop computer..

    I am 54 yrs. and my career for last 25 yrs. has and continues to be 80% tied to designing content management/information management systems.

    Tell the magazine editor: you have forgotten a bloc of older folks who raised the tech savvy generation and helped the younger generation on the Internet.

    A better marketing headline is approaching how easy the tablet is by pressing on xxx button to get xxxx.

    Reply
  54. Joy well done, Lynne. I simply sent a message to FastCompany stating the add was so condescending, I would not buy the product. Stop the image that old people are simple!

    Reply
    • I appreciate the message to FC, Pen, so they might know how they’ve damaged the rep of a product they were reviewing. On Friday, July 5, I’m going to let Claris get a word in edgewise. Hope you’ll stop by.

      Reply
  55. My mother is 79 and knows more about computers than me. My uncle at 85 is the same. They both had better cell phones than I did (I just updated). I am 57 and just starting to blog (still working on that one). Marketing should be fired. What a way to alienate a large group of people.

    Reply
    • Okay, it wasn’t marketing. It was a magazine, reviewing a product. But I appreciate your heart and good ethics.

      Reply
  56. FastCompany doesn’t stigmatize mature people as much as it does its horrendous marketing. I FaceTime with relatives in Australia. My oldest first cousin , late 80’s, is sharper than some 30 year olds and a great deal wiser. She knew years ago I was emailing with another first cousin in Israel and decided to become computer literate. She surpassed all expectations which brings us to the same point for all ages…starting with kids. As an educator for over 30 years, I have seen students from elementary through grade 12 fail to learn when it was expected that they were unable to. FastCompany isn’t fast nor is it smart. They are slow to recognize their market and dim to upset potential customers and their families.

    Reply
    • Diane, I appreciate your wisdom and your experience. I need to clarify that FC is just a magazine that reviewed a product; I wouldn’t want Claris (the manufacturer) to suffer as a result.

      Reply
  57. A Tablet So Simple, Even An Old Person Can Use It — But The Rest of The Old People Prefer To Purchase From Reputable Companies Who Market Products With Intelligence, Not Ignorance.

    Reply
    • But CJ, that headline was by a magazine, FastCompany. Claris had nothing to do with it and was saddened to be portrayed that way.

      Reply
      • I realize this, but this sort of thing is the reason for lawsuits. In this situation the mfr. of the product obviously relied upon FC company to handle to drafting and ‘proofing’ without requiring the item to be finalized by the Claris co. prior to printing. This won’t fix the damage to Claris’ image, but hitting FC with punitive damages, an order to retract and apologize publicly, etc. will be a fine start. FC will then feel the pain once they are perceived as ignorant, ageist, and incompetent to handle business. I dislike the overly litigious society, but certainly a legal action here is about the only way to serve as an example of how not to market to consumers, how not to ruin 2 companies’ business reputations, and how not to give carte blanche to an outside agency…ALWAYS cover your behind by getting written approval on the final proofing before press. Product reviews ARE marketing tools.

        Reply
        • Uh, FastCompany is to Claris as Rachel Maddow is to Barack Obama. An opinion expressed, unsolicited; no relationship or connection.

          Reply
  58. How shameful. One of the worst ideas is to start assuming stuff about people. Trying to sell your product based on those (wrong) assumptions is even a worse idea. I especially dislike how the guy is trying to go around it in his e-mail… Would it be so hard to accept they did a mistake?

    Reply
    • Cristina, he seems real defensive about that. All he had to say was, “Wow, sorry! Didn’t mean to paint Claris in such a negative light. I didn’t realize that a perfectly innocent company is now going to be seen as ageist thanks to my ignorance in composing a review. I’ll fix it ASAP.” But no, alas, the headline is still up, today, as of 8:45 am Pacific, Friday, July 5. You’d think FastCompany was deliberately trying to hurt this manufacturer (Claris Healthcare.)

      Reply
      • All it takes is one unfortunate word… . I really do hope they fix it though. I was telling the story to someone today and the reaction was the same as the one I had reading your post (perplexed).

        Reply
        • Cristina, I was bummed that FastCompany wasn’t fixing that headline, and tried to get a buddy of mine, an older woman with a very powerful blog about aging, to bring some attention to it. She basically shrugged, saying this kind of thing happens every day all day, so what was the big deal? It’s horrible but she and her peers have learned to live with it. Isn’t that sad? I’m 59 and hoping by the time I get to be older (God willing) things are different.

          Reply
          • Yes, it’s very sad indeed. I get so upset when things like this happen…

  59. I agree that a more general statement such as “easy for all levels of mobile devise users” or a more sensitive review of different demographics comfort levels with mobile devices and the company that aims to accomodate them (and how they’ll appeal to each demographic) because every one is valuable!

    Reply
  60. As a monthly subscriber to Fast Company, my favorite cultural catchup, I am impressed by learning of new and more efficient products and ideas and their implementers. Just don’t come off like technological savvy leads over wisdom and a wealth of experience, because what goes around comes around.

    Reply
  61. At almost 71 I suppose I qualify as an old person and I resent this stereotyping! I like the new technology but I pick and choose what works for me and take pride in not relying on it for everything. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    Reply
  1. FastCompany to Old People: You Must Be Stupid, Stupid, Stupid | Memeanmeak's Blog
  2. Ageism in West Michigan | Hanesana Chittisane

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  • Lynne Spreen

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    Lynne Spreen's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
  • Review of Private Life by Jane Smiley

    Private LifePrivate Life by Jane Smiley
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Maybe this book is better than my capacity to appreciate. I don't tend toward writing that is obscure, or dense (or makes me feel dense). However, sometimes it's better to roll along with the storytelling and let the deeper meaning work its way up from subconscious to conscious.

    The ending of this book is extremely powerful. Margaret, due to the traumatic incident that happened when she was five, lived in a fog her entire life, married to a wacko genius, and not waking up until she was in her sixties and everything/everyone is sad and tired. Yet she seems to catch fire, fueled by bitterness, in the very last 3 sentences of the epilogue. It was a long time to wait for the enlightenment.

    I gave the book 3 stars because there's too much backstory too soon, making it hard for me to develop an interest. Once there, I felt frustrated at the repetitious nature of Margaret's obtuseness, even though she's a bright woman, and her deferring to Andrew, even though this is what people - women especially - do.

    It went on for her whole life! That she was living in a cloud due to, I believe, the trauma of the childhood incident, and that she was ill served by those around her, didn't make it any easier to like this story. I know Smiley is a master writer, and I feel like a goof not giving her a better rating, but this is my honest reaction.

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    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Very much enjoyed this short book, which I read in one night. The settings are lush, dialogue snappy, and the characters realistic and strong. The plot and writing are compelling. I enjoyed it because a theme might be, "people are not what they appear to be." A character acts one way and you think, okay, he's good and upstanding. And maybe he IS, but the "why" of it is enlightening. Maugham is a respected author for a reason. What talent! A very good story.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Benediction by Kent Haruf

    BenedictionBenediction by Kent Haruf
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Ever in search of stories about midlife and beyond, I set up a page on facebook (www.Facebook.com/midlife.fiction) and asked for suggestions. I got 38 great recommendations, and I hope to read and review every one of them. Herewith, then: Benediction by Kent Haruf. What a masterpiece.

    Benediction centers around an elderly man who is dying, but the story encompasses many rich characters, and their small stories touched me. In fact, I think this is what made the book so special for me: I saw a little bit of myself in each of them. Each one resonated. I felt again what it was like to be a lost little girl, a lonely divorcee, a misunderstood introspective, a grieving wife, a person who is coping with serious illness. I longed for the small-town atmosphere described here (the Fourth of July fireworks over the high school football field is a stellar short story all by itself.)

    Although the central character is dying, the book is not negative. Far from it - Benediction reflects on the everyday goodness (and tawdriness) of people. His characters are beset by the normal difficulties of life yet buoyed by simple beauties and kindnesses.

    Yet, nothing in Haruf's writing is overly dramatic or in the least saccharine. In fact, that's one of the aspects of Benediction I enjoyed the most: being surprised by tears on the completion of a plainly-written paragraph, phrase or description.

    I couldn't stop reading excerpts to my husband, since he also loves beautifully crafted writing. This book put me in mind of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. If I could describe it in one word, it would be "elegiac."

    View all my reviews

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