For Americans, if someone were to ask you about Grumpy Old Men you may think of a 1993 film starring Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau. Those living on the other side of the pond, specifically in the UK, will no doubt associate the term with a successful TV program on which a succession of representatives from the ‘older and should know better’ generation give their views on various topics causing ire or of interest to them (mainly the former). There are no doubt numerous other examples that define a generation which is not known for spending too much of its time on the sunnier side of life.
Younger, but not so happy
As far as technology is concerned though, it would appear that the oldies are not as grumpy as the slightly younger upstarts banging at their ancient doors. A recent poll of just over 3000 adults undertaken by public opinion research specialists Zogby International and online news outlet ScoopDaily indicates that the slightly less old may also be spending a greater part of their time in the darkened pits of disenchantment often associated with their seniors.
The main problem seems to be one of expectation. Members of the senior generation have witnessed wondrous advances and enormous change during their lives and as a result, those over 70 years-old are “most likely to say we are more advanced than they thought we would be by 2010.” By contrast, technologically spoilt youngsters and those who grew up with televised promises of a future where robots would ease our everyday domestic burdens, where we would be going to work in flying cars powered by clean energy or popping off to Mars for a mid-season weekend break – well, they’re a little disappointed.
Quickly browsing through a list of tech highlights to have emerged only during the last decade and looking at some of those that have been shown at CES recently, it’s hard for me to see why only 13% of 18-30 year-olds believed that advances had exceeded their expectations and over a third of those falling into the 35 to 54 year-old age range voiced varying degrees of discontent at the level of tech currently on offer.
I see great advances, don’t you?
Just a few years ago I would have had to carry a fairly large box of vinyl records around with me if I wanted to share musical moments with friends, now I can carry thousands of digital tracks in my pocket. I remember with fondness the days when mobile phones were just used to make telephone calls, they’re now the digital personal business and entertainment equivalent of a Swiss army knife. True, I’m not able to jump in my flying car and head for the nearest space port for an interstellar holiday, but traveling with minimal environmental impact is closer then ever and plans for off-world habitation are beginning to take shape.
As for domestic robots – such things have been developed of course but currently reside in the insanely expensive prototype stage. For the moment at least, most of us who want to enjoy android assistance with the household chores will have to make do with those ever-so-quaint but hardly vital robotic vacuum cleaners like the Rhoomba.
Are you one of those unhappy with how far technology has come or do you think, like 37% of those polled, that we’re just about at the right place?