Thursday, August 28, 2008

Get Offa My Lawn!

Here's an article from today's NY Times that could have been very helpful. Could have been if it hadn't been loaded with patronizing condescension and insulting snideness. But it was, and I'm steamed.

Look, at 62 I know that my eyes aren't as sharp, my fingers not as nimble, and my memory not as faultless as it was at 32. That's part of the deal. On the other hand, I have plenty of experience with the common sense that comes with that experience, and a certain amount of wisdom, all of which seems like a pretty fair trade-off. I also know that because of history, I'm a member of a class that is expanding pretty rapidly in this country so that businesses are finally paying attention. They're developing products which take into account the physical changes that accompany aging, and for that I am grateful.

I'm also grateful for product reviews that provide me with good information on products that can be very helpful. Unfortunately, too many of them are written like Eric Taub's. Here's a taste:

Here is what you have to look forward to as you enter your 60s and 70s: deciphering conversations at cocktail parties becomes difficult; you cannot remember where you put your keys; and your grandchildren think you are a computer klutz.

Fortunately, technologies are appearing that can remedy some of these shortcomings, helping those in their 60s maintain their youthful self-images.

“The new market is old age,” said Joseph F. Coughlin, director of the AgeLab at M.I.T. “Baby boomers provide a perpetually youthful market.” They are, says Mr. Coughlin, himself a spry 47, “looking for technology to stay independent, engaged, well and vital.”
[Emphasis added]

It used to be that the phrase "a spry" would be attached to a number like "80." But 47? Oh, please. And a "youthful self-image"? Look, any time I think of myself as still being in my 30's I need only look in the mirror or try to run the last block to the bus stop on a day I'm running late to disabuse myself of that misconception. Fortunately, I don't engage in that kind of self-deception very often. Like I said, I'm 62, not 32, and if Mr. Taub is 32, I'm damned grateful to be 62.

Look, I like the ideas behind the products being reviewed. I appreciate knowing there are cell phones available with larger buttons, larger type on the screens, and the capacity for increasing volume and for plugging in hearing aids. That's helpful. As are pill dispensers which signal when a medication is available and should be taken.

The irony is that many of these products are useful to all sorts of people, regardless of age. Cell phones with larger buttons can be helpful for little kids who have one for emergencies and who sometimes have trouble with the coordination necessary to hit those tiny buttons. The real difference, it seems to me, is the marketing angle, at least for many of these products, which is just fine with me.

Hey, I didn't just start misplacing my keys. I've been doing it on a fairly regular basis all my life, as have most people I know. A device which locates those keys for me sounds terrific. And keyless entries which depend on such great new technology as a fingerprint instead of a series of number to open the front door also appeals to me, as it would to most people.

But then I have to hear about such products in this fashion:

...several lock manufacturers offer keyless home entry locks that use fingerprint recognition technology to open a door. Available from such companies as Kwikset and 1Touch, the units, which start at around $200, can authorize 50 or more users depending on the model.

If you can remember all 50 users, this may be one product you do not need yet.




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