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Nudging 60, in digital mode

It would seem that there never was a better time to be a senior citizen

Soon as an official member of the seniors’ club I can claim concessions in air and train fares, hotel tariffs, out-of-turn access to counters at banks, and quicker access to god at crowded temples. But the best part? Today’s 60 is not just a number, its digital!

My husband and I are probably part of an Indian generation of several firsts. We live in our own home (that is, we don’t live with our children), manage our finances, organise our travel and are generally happy to be managing our lives. Linking in makes it easier; instant gratification, in fact. At 60 that’s not a bad thing, it’s a super convenience.

Let me explain. Our home is located outside the city, which means I get to enjoy salubrious surroundings while the city is choking in foul air. But it also means getting to any place from here requires covering distances, pot-holed roads and traffic. But I don’t have to get anywhere unless I want to. I just need my computer, or my phone will do too.

I order groceries, select the time I want it and voila! there’s the delivery van at my gate. For my special brand of coffee I message the supplier, pay online and my coffee arrives at my doorstep. Bill and credit card payments, recharges, money transfers, tax payments, flight or train bookings, all without getting off my seat.

In the run-up to the senior digits I have moved further up Maslow’s hierarchy to improve my wellness quotient. A fitness band around my wrist keeps me informed of how many more steps I have to walk today to keep my heart in good shape. It helpfully also points out how many steps I walked briskly and how many I cheated this morning! A mix-match of wisdom from several gurus distilled through an assortment of Apps provides me a unique set of yoga asanas and meditation techniques that works for me. Bhajans, fun songs, retro, jazz, classical — I can listen to any music I want. Surely it’s a lot easier now to steer body and mind closer together?

Electronic alerts regularly inform me of movie releases, theatre productions and concerts, prodding me to make bookings. First thing I do? Swipe into my phone of course. In minutes it’s all done. Armed with M-tickets we brave the roads, Google-mapping our way. What if we don’t feel like driving? Ah need my phone App…… to book a taxi ride. On lazy days I simply watch a movie on my computer.

Like any true bibliophile I love to touch and smell books, caress their musty covers and tattered pages. But just the thought of driving to get one has me turning to online delivery platforms. I end up loading a bunch into my tablet and feel smug carrying a well-stocked library with me wherever I go.

Keeping in touch is now a constant. WhatsApp, FaceTime, Facebook, Skype…. I am spoilt for choice. Updating with children living abroad and with siblings is joyfully seamless. I have also become appreciably ‘digi-social’ — a phrase I recently learnt, used to describe someone who is “overly social using the internet”. And why not? I now have the time and the inclination. Bonding with friends and extended family can be uplifting. What's more, I can connect but need not always commit. So I can ‘like’ something, message a conversation, post a smiley, share photos or I can NOT do any of it. It’s really up to me. No one seems to mind. Social media comes with some collateral benefits. I can keep track of news, live-stream events far away, learn about the goodness of soaked almonds and banana bread...

Hoping to keep the grey cells ticking, I combine consulting work with volunteering. I don’t ‘go to office’ anymore, have ‘meetings’ with people I rarely meet and with others I have never met. I have revived my enthusiasm for writing encouraged by the fact that when newspapers ignore my articles I can call them blog posts and resend to a bunch of captive readers.

If you are a millennial reading this you are probably rolling your eyes right now thinking, “I’m supposed to be impressed? Get a life!” Okay, so my smartphone is my only cool device, I don’t check reviews before eating out; I’m not into Instagram, gaming, drones or any of those useful startup Apps. But Hey! At least my intelligence isn’t artificial, it’s for real. Come on guys, cut me some slack here. I’m trying aren’t I?

And, to my soon-to- be fellow-seniors: Let’s wire up folks; virtual is the new real.

shoba.raja536@gmail.com

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 10:43:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/nudging-60-in-digital-mode/article18446829.ece

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