One of the benefits of technology is that it has brought the lens of age into the conversation. The phenomenon of the tech world is how it has allowed for trans-generational interaction to take place between the old and the young. Different age groups, earlier generations, millennials, baby boomers, and so forth are allowed to participate and enter into the wonders of technology. In a terse amount of words, technology is. . .ageless!

Now, some people may think that there is a problem in considering technology “ageless.” Current technological devices such as I-pods, PCs, smartphones, earplugs, were created in a certain time frame. Which means that it is crafted for a younger generation. Supposedly. Yet, whose to say that older generations are prohibited from being part of the wonders of this digital world? Whose to say that those persons, born in the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and before the 80’s are “prohibited” from participating and contributing to, and learning from, this new, digital and technological era? What handbook suggest so? Isn’t that a bit. . .agesist?

We can’t deny that with the evolution of time, there are many examples of older generations latching on, and performing in, the latest craze of the technology world. The elder generations, those 80+ years old, are no exception to the rule. In fact, elders, who decide to get their hands involved with technological devices, deconstruct prominent perceptions surrounding older people. Those stereotypes of older populations being inactive, immobile, and “incapable” of learning anything new. Supposedly “unable” to learn and “keep up” with us, young folks. And yet, there are those who not only challenge such ageist limitations, but defy them. That’s where the lessons of Grandpa James comes into play.

(Photograph and Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Grandpa was always an avid learner. Studious. Lover of knowledge. Passionate reader. Diligent notetaker. So, when the new excitement of the digital world came knocking on his door, not only did he open it, but also held a party for its invitation. Working an I-pad was his first selection. Whether taking notes, playing digital games, or sending an email to me while I’m overseas, this facet of technology was just another space of knowledge for his mind to dwell through.

Seeing Grandpa work his magic on his digital device is a living wonder. It was the perfect familial image of showing the intertwining of age-a closing of the generational gap. Bringing old knowledge into the new. Providing a new perspective of the technology world, through the realms of Old wisdom. How’s that for a hint of cross-generation exchange? Its not always that the “young fad” of technology brings “up to speed” or “up-to-date,” with the young ones. Why not imagine that the older generation has a secret knowledge in understanding technology (and the digital world), in a way that younger people are not privy to. Simply because we were not alive to experience the world, before the existing of new technology . The beauty of it all is how he brought in a human touch to digital devices. You didn’t just stay glued to the screen, removed from interaction with others, nearby. Rather you used technology to connect with people. Bringing humanity back into the mix. His I-pod is simply that, a utensil. He didn’t become a machine to the instrument. The tool was an avenue to connect with the minds of others; while keeping healthy conversations going. The Grandpa’s lessons, we use technology to appreciate people, not to replace them. Human touch and connection is the primary mode. Digital devices are just one way of doing it.

(Photograph and Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

So, what is this untapped knowledge and perception of the digital world that elders may have? And are we missing out because of our ageist perceptions of time?

One of the cool things about Grandpa is how we engaged, and performed in the digital world, with him. Communicating from near and afar. Using the I-pod for photo opportunities, and so much more. While understanding the mechanics of digital games, Grandpa was also a scholar. Inquisitive, experimental, and always staying in tuned with the latest craze and political updates of the day. A political commentator, oral historian, explorer, adventurer, world traveler, and expert of societal analysis. So, you see, with all of these prior experiences, you can imagine the wealth of knowledge Grandpa James brought to the digital world-with just the use of his I-pod, alone. Numerous questions to ponder, hmm.

(Photographs and Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

What thoughts passed his mental process, when playing strategic games? As a little girl, I remember our times of playing checkers, together. He beat me often. Nevertheless, a strategic mind, indeed. How did a physical game, and the strategies of such, translate into the digital one? Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Ponders of the mind run on.

Another profound lesson in having that digital time with Grandpa, is that it showed the wonders of time. Literally. Technology honed in the age differences into one time frame. That during those moments, periods of the past, present, and future become interlocked in one moment. That the old was linked into mentalities of the new, while the young observed intriguing perceptions of the old. An intergenerational aesthetics had taken place. Is taking place, and will continue to take place.

(Photographs and Edits By Lauren K. Clark)
(Photograph By Jamison Clark; Edits By Lauren K. Clark)

Those moments with Grandpa in the digital world articulates a bold statement. Contrary to popular believe, it is natural for a sound mind, even in old age. Quite honestly, nature mandates it as the standard-at any age. It is the law of the Universe, contrary to popular, scientific belief. Grandpa understood this, and continued to challenge his mind, as if he was in his 20’s. As long as we continue to re-generate our brain cells, exercise our minds, feed our mind with nature’s ingredients, and develop them into higher levels of consciousness, a healthy mind will prevail.

Even prior to his transition, as articulated to me by Mom and Uncle Craig, Grandpa was on his I-pad, exploring the world of digital games. The illness never reached his mind. It was truly safe and sound. So, as we ponder, and learn, on Grandpa James’s ever growing teaching moments, we reflect on the wisdom of age. That old age and technology DO mix! It’s a realm worth exploring, and a lesson worth knowing. Is it possible that knowledge before the digital world is the key to making healthier and safer modes of technology? Probably!

Until then, let’s enjoy seeing age and technology as compatible fields. Not a window of ignorance or inability, but a realm of enlightenment. Understanding that elders have a strategic, and unique, place in the digital-tech worlds. They humanize them. And if we are keen in our observations, we can gain further inquiry into how their wisdom will drastically improve, and impact technology, which revolutionizes the field for the well-being of humanity.

Until then, let’s play those digital games with the elders, nearby. They’re actually more cool, and hip, then we think. In interacting with them in this way, there are certain mysteries and hidden pieces we can discover in the process. Improving our knowledge, in an older way!

(Photograph and Edits By Lauren K. Clark)