After having been retired for some months I was asked, if I could temporarily work part time helping with the administration of FinnAgora. As I felt some more activity would not hurt, I joined the team.

When the colleagues last autumn started to think of possible project themes for this year, among others „digitalization” was mentioned. My first thought was that it should be viewed taking into account also elderly people like me as I think many of us do not “feel at home” in this respect.

Having a look at Eurostat statistics sorted by countries and by age groups it can been seen that in 2017 about 40 % of people aged 65-74 years in the EU-28 had never used a computer.  In 2016 the share of people over 65 who use the internet at least once a week was 66% in Finland and 35% in Hungary. In 2018 in EU less than 20% of people aged 65-74 years used social networks.

The situation gets better from year to year, but still there are millions of people around us who are not able to handle matters requiring active use of electronic applications. It’s no use giving them an access to internet, a laptop on the table and a smart phone in their pocket if there’s nobody nearby teaching the use of them and supporting when problems arise.

I belong to those who got used to computers and internet during their active years. At work I could always ask for help from younger colleagues and help desks. It didn’t matter that I often felt that we speak different languages: I didn’t understand what they asked and they didn’t understand my answers, but all the problems were solved anyhow.  – And luckily some years ago my children asked me to throw away my ancient mobile phone and showed me how to use a smart phone.

It’s a fact that the older you get the more difficult it is to learn new things. Often also some kind of “internal resistance” can be noticed (including me, too!), when you feel that I’ve had enough of this, I just don’t want to learn the use of any new systems, applications, platforms or whatever they may be.

But if we, “the old ones”, do not keep up with the development of modern techniques, little by little we notice that we have become outsiders and can less and less take part in what is going on around us. So I keep saying to myself: don’t give up!

Now that I started to work again I felt I have no problems in taking care of my tasks, I can still make it.  - But sometimes I can’t help the feeling that I’m already severely dragging behind the younger ones. The first meeting in the office:

-          We used to keep contact with each other via messenger. Pirjo, do you have messenger on your phone?

-          No. I think you have to be on facebook in order to be able to use messenger. I’m not on facebook as I don’t want to be on facebook.

-          Hmm, well, ok - we’ll keep contact with you some other way.

I felt that now they think that I’m so old that I can’t handle facebook and messenger. After some days I registered on facebook (luckily nobody asked me to do it with my own name), so now I get the information just like the others.

At the last meeting in the office before starting working remotely due to coronavirus it was decided that we’ll stay in contact via Skype meetings.

-          Pirjo, do you have Skype on your phone?

-          Well…

Now I have.

Written by FinnAgoras administrative assistant Pirjo Mészáros