The scramble to keep up


I’m still somewhat reluctantly learning how to set the GPS on my phone to help me find a new place or a particular address. You can learn how to do it, yes, but then you have to practise enough to know when she’s leading you down the garden path. It’s frustrating when she insists that you take her route, right or wrong. But I’m still practising because – you have to. You absolutely have to keep up.

My mother lived until she was 98, almost 99. For the last dozen or so years of her life, maybe more, she was unable to make a phone call. Why? Because there was no longer a phone book for her to look up a number – phone books had disappeared, leaving her and thousands of other older seniors at the mercy of whatever kind soul would look up a number or make a phone call for them. The loss of a sense of agency must have been profound.

Things have evolved from there. Now there’s a chance you can’t open a locked door, pay for goods, attend a concert, apply for a job or a benefit or renew a prescription without a smart phone. Or take a photo.

In addition to the need for tech devices, we now have ambiguity and uncertainty baked into our world. With ChatGPT and its ilk, we need to think hard whether some piece of information is authentic or merely manufactured by statistical probability as to what word might come next in a series of words. Similarly, photos and video can easily be altered to “show” whatever, true or false. How are we to “know” anything anymore?

But the changes are irrevocable, there’s no going back. We need to jump on board or get left at the station. Literally, if it’s the LRT. Although we may want to throw up our hands and give up or simply hope we can ride it out, we cannot do that. We need to follow along with as many changes as possible, at every age or stage in life. We need to keep and enjoy all the capabilities we can muster!

—Liz McKeen

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