Living life via apps is not ideal, even if you’re young and trendy which I am definitely not. But I do think of myself as technically adroit, having made a reasonable living writing about technology for the last thirty years or so. So when I get confused and stressed because I cannot work out how to pay for parking or log onto an online bank account or buy concert tickets on my phone I get quite dejected. When I can’t find ferry tickets, order books, check in for a flight, join a Zoom call or whatever, I am increasingly inclined to put it down to age. Clearly I am too old for the appilytic life.
But then I see young people also getting frustrated, also swearing and huffing and puffing and having minor hissy fits. “Let’s just leave it.” “Oh, this app is crap” “I can’t be bothered to take care of this now,” and such like is not just a common response amongst old people. Young people get pissed of with apps too!
And this started me wondering why it is that old people accept that because they are old they can no longer learn new stuff. This suggests that it is ok to stop thinking for oneself, to stop learning. Yes thinking is harder when your brain is loaded to the gills with a lifetime’s experience and knowledge. All those people, books, places, movies and songs. All those memories of amazing conversations, lovers, food and drinks. Having overstuffed brains may be why old people tend to go with the cliché, because the excuse of age for losing the plot is convenient even if it isn’t always true. If you are in good health, do not accept that as every part of you decays with age, your imagination and curiosity inevitably go with it. Yes it is much easier just to believe what newspapers, television and websites say is true. After all, questioning the party line is just so tiresome. No! This is not the way to go. Informed critical thinking never has to stop and nor does your imagination.
It cannot be true that getting older means not having any more wild ideas. It cannot be true that the challenge of thinking for oneself is no longer worth it. For most of us, getting older means that one can more or less make a choice and trust that it won’t matter if it is the wrong one. Someone else can sort out the consequences. Such arrogance. Laziness, tiredness, ill-health, complacency, fear, are all good reasons not to be bold with your thinking. But surely if none of the above apply, it has to be better to keep a young head, especially as everything else slides slowly into decrepitude.
There is an uglier side to this. Lots of old people look back on their lives, taking a certain smug satisfaction that they are still here, that they’ve made it to the final stretch. They are pleased to be old, because being old is some sort of a license to stop taking responsibility for thinking, doing, creating. But imagination mustn’t be allowed to run dry. Exciting ideas are not the preserve of youth, although the energy to implement them might be.
Young or old if you are feeling overwhelmed by an appilytic life, get out of your dusty corner and recapture yourself, starting with your imagination. Think three wild things a day and tell some bright young spark to turn them into apps. Step away from the grey shadows and face the light to reclaim the you you were in your prime. (Maybe have a little nap first to prepare yourself.) If your prime is now, make sure you do all you can to keep challenging the clichés as you age. Banish the mean and pinching clutches of decline and stretch towards the open and ever-expanding dimensions of your imagination. If that seems a push or you’re not sure how, don’t worry there’s probably an app for it.