We’re not “old.” Not the way we saw our grandparents. We have active, connected, vibrant lives. Sure, one day we may stop working at our jobs, but we aren’t withdrawing from an involved life. We are young at heart and in spirit.

Yes, we are. But there is one area that we may be blind to in the “becoming old” category; not keeping up with technology. It’s our generation’s weakness, our Achilles heel, if you will, when it comes to staying young. Many of us aren’t even aware of how behind we are, and how old it makes us seem to everyone under 40.

Tech Aversion Is The New “Old”

What is tech aversion? It’s being afraid of, resistant to, or even hostile toward learning, understanding, or even trying new forms of technology. It’s our generation’s equivalent of the granny glasses, the orthopedic shoes, the walkers, the compression stockings, the frumpy clothes – that make young people feel that they cannot relate to us as well as they might like to. In many conversations and settings, your tech aversion will fade you out of the energy and the flow of social and business discourse. Tech Aversion – it’s the new “old.”

It’s not that “old” is inherently bad – the problem is that when someone thinks of you as old, they’re feeling a disconnect with you. And that means a loss of communication, a weakening of a relationship, a distancing between you and that younger person in your life.

But unlike our physical manifestations of older age, tech aversion is not inevitable, it’s a choice. And it’s a choice you don’t have to make.

How To Grow Out Of The “Old”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you have to know every app and social media platform. What I’m saying is that if you could accurately be described as tech averse, then younger people – your children, your grandchildren, your younger co-workers and neighbors, people you meet at social gatherings – are going to think of you as “old” in the same way that we thought of our grandparents as old.

But if you choose to cast off your distaste for social media or smart phones, or your distrust of conducting transactions online, you’ll not only stop appearing to be old and out of it, you’ll do something far more important: you’ll access a whole new world of possibilities – cost savings, conveniences, access to information, avoidance of traffic jams, sharing fun with loved ones, saving gobs of time doing repetitive tasks like paying bills, having fun in whole new ways. It’s amazing how much the use of apps and software and websites can enrich your life.

Rationalizations For Not Keeping Up With Tech

Here are some of the justifications I hear from people my age for refusing to learn and use new technology:

“It’s more work to learn it than it’s worth.”

“I’ve always done it this way, and it’s always worked fine for me.”

“I’m not going to waste my time reading about what people had for breakfast this morning.”

“I like a real book – made out of paper.”

“I don’t want to put all my personal information out there into the world.”

“It’s all either a rip-off or a total waste of time.”

“It’s not safe. I’ll have my identity stolen.”

“It’s stupid.”

I have one response: Have you tried it – whatever app, software, social media platform, or online service that you say you hate? No? Then what is the basis for your belief? How about trying it, and then making your judgment call?

If You’re Tech Averse, Come On – Dip A Toe Into The Water

Honestly, you’ll take years off your age if you decide to open your mind to at least some of the new gadgets, programs, and social media sites that are available today. Yes, it will be a pain to tackle the learning curves, especially if tech is not your thing. But I guarantee that you’ll reap benefits you didn’t realize were there waiting for you all this time. You’ll thank yourself for making the effort.

For the past two years, I’ve been teaching a workshop at the Women At Woodstock retreat (an annual gathering for women over 50 in Woodstock, New York) on the latest apps and programs I’ve discovered that save money or save time or help your productivity or make communication with your loved ones easier and faster. I also throw in some of the best shortcuts and clear up some of the biggest frustrations with the standards in computing: Word documents, Gmail, internet navigation, and passwords. Throughout every session, I keep hearing, “Oh wow, that’s so cool!” Or, “Is that all you have to do?” Or “You mean that’s free?!?” Or, “I didn’t know you could do that!”

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. It’s technology, and it’s marvelous and it’s magical and you can use it for all kinds of wonderful ease-making, cost-saving, connection-forming miracles in your life. You’re never too old.

Use technology, and you’ll connect to the world. You’ll also stop seeming so old to the younger people around you.

It’s all good. Or as the Millennials say, “No worries.”

This article originally appeared in Sixty and Me.

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