I had an insight while I was preparing to give a workshop on social media earlier this summer. I was asked to deliver a workshop at a Health and Fitness Events camp for women that was being held to raise money for Wellspring, a cancer care organization. I knew that most of the women there would be around my age and likely a little bit older: women in their fifties. I knew they were mostly professionals, many of whom has grown children and were embarking on a second career, some new entrepreneurs, consultants…in other words, strong, capable, savvy, and INTIMIDATING!
I was fairly certain that my meagre tips on social media would be greeted with some disdain: what could I possibly have to offer that they hadn’t heard before?
I was wrong. I discovered that there is a generation of women, my generation or perhaps the one just before me (I consider myself to be a gen xer, even though there is some debate as to whether gen x starts in 1962, 1963, or 1965): Boomers, who missed the nineties when the internet happened.
They were, like me, having kids. (I’m not suggesting that all women around my age were having kids in the nineties: just that the ones I met at this camp were.)
Unlike me, they weren’t lucky enough to have attended an oddball faculty called Photo-Electric Arts at Art College. I credit my Ontario College of Art experience with having instilled in me a healthy critical awareness of, curiosity about, and familiarity with, then nascent digital culture. I took electronics and computer graphics, I learned how modems worked and more importantly, I was there for the birth of the web with it’s radical democracy and explosion of newsgroups and awkward animated-gif-laden web pages.
So while guys like Steve Jobs, Wozniak, and Gates laid the groundwork for future generations of techies, I realized that if I look around the world I now inhabit, I am one of the very few women my age who has what Mitch Joel calls a “Digital Posture”.
And there are lots of organizations for young women in tech, and young women entrepreneurs, but not so much for older women. It’s like we have been left behind. And what I realized at the camp was that the women I met did not want to be left behind, nor did they deserve to be left behind, but they really, really didn’t want to ask their husbands or their kids for help. I realized that I can help, and we need their voices.
This is an important business niche: helping strong, capable, professional women in their fifties to get good at the tech that surrounds us, to help them do business online (as we all need to do these days). All I need now is a good name for this new business line….
I also missed the 90’s aswell because I was carving out a new life for myself and my family and missed the birth of the Internet . While teens learned and engaged the web I was working the same old pattern and technoligy over shot me. It was’nt until 2003 that I puchased my first PC and it was used.I soon found out i was far behind game so to speak and had to speed things up. So as time went by and many more new computers i found a new competive edge with Linux and other OS systems i was able to catch up learn things once out of reach . After reading your post I realize how close I came to being left behind. I hope this helps some how and I wish you and th ladies well with that project and would like to see what becomes of it. GOOD LUCK !
I had never thought of that before. I have the benefit of just becoming an adult at the time the internet was first becoming popular so I was still in a life where I was always surrounded by education and learning. I can imagine it would be difficult for some who had already gone past that in their lives and were raising the next generation while all of that was going on. And then to have to turn to their husbands or kids, the ones they’ve been helping to raise or take care of for answers to even simple questions would be hard. I remember when I spent over an hour trying to explain how copy/paste worked on the computer to my dad. But once he got past the frustrations and understood the basic things he was able to go and learn on his own. But I know it was hard for him to come to me for help rather than a peer. I hope you were able to do something with that idea.
I didn’t really miss the 90s (I’m later in Gen X), but I was just having a conversation today about how the 90s to this day have not been properly memorialized in part because it’s harder to do than other recent eras. For example, the 60s and 70s were times of pronounced social and cultural/aesthetic changes and are immediately recognizable whenever an artifact from that era is seen. And then, of course, the 80s are so undeniably 80s (and thank you, Christine, for being part of mine; I completely loved YCDTOT and especially you). But it seems that when we rolled into the 90s, things got dramatically plainer (though not necessarily worse), and there was a big emphasis on trying to have more modern aesthetics but not in a soon-to-appear-dated or tacky way (as was the more “futuristic-modern” 80s styles which aged super badly almost right away — though I love them anyway). Everyone seemed to be reeling from 80s excess and focusing on stripping things down, and I think the 90s ended up being more like the 2000s and today than anything that came before. Technology started getting better, the Internet and cellphones started to appear more commonly, etc. Not only was it the last decade of the 20th century on a calendrical level but the real end of a cultural era in many other ways, a transition which continued into the 2000s up until broadband or so. So I guess what I’m saying is that while I remember the 90s pretty fondly, with certain exceptions, I don’t think they were all that distinctive, and if you caught the 2000s, although they were dramatically more conservative politically, culturally I think they were pretty similar (to ’95 and on, anyway). You know what I do remember about the 90s though that I don’t hear mentioned very often? Cigarette smoking. Everyone was still smoking everywhere then because it was still allowed. I think people today would be shocked to remember how common this was and how much of an impact it made — in malls, restaurants, bars, schools, etc. Anyway, I could go on, but interesting post! I did happen to have a PC in 1993 and therefore learned technology as it was evolving, but I also resent the extent to which it dominates our lives today.
First off, shout out to Christine (aka Moose) from YCDTOT. She was one of my big preteen crushes, loved her thick dark hair and blue (like mine) eyes. But I’m also female and back in the early eighties it was looked down upon and I was bullied relentlessly in high school. To the point I started drinking and doing drugs. Suicidal, I had to leave my H.S. the end of my junior year, go to drug treatment, and do my senior year in a new strange school knowing no one. No proms and no graduation ceremony, just mail me my diploma….I was done. My high school experience was a nightmare.
Anyway, I missed the nineties because I got back into drugs, and serious ones now like shooting heroin. I wound up on the streets selling my body so I wouldn’t get dope sick. The things I saw and the stories I could tell….. Oh yeah, and in and out of prison and more drug rehabs. I am now app 18 yrs clean thanks to my methadone maintenance program. I will be on until I die.
Sooo…..I knew nothing of computers. In the early eighties, I took a computer class in the torture h.s. and failed. I hated that class. It was nothing like it is today, back then it was putting in a never-ending amount of numbers and sequences to obtain something. It wasn’t til I was on my M.M. program and staying clean that I learned the basics on my mom’s old desktop. My mom (I don’t have kids) was the one that showed me how to browse and such. I didn’t own a laptop til I got one for Xmas in 2012. I had to try to learn things myself. I’m 54 yrs old and still don’t know how to do many things but I’m learning. One thing I did learn is to google ANYTHING I want to know.
How I feel about the internet and social media as a whole? I LOVE the fact I can research anything and everything. I’m one of those people that want to know about this and that-it’s opened a whole world out there for me. I won’t buy ANYTHING without researching it first. I learned about the scammers and how to “read between the lines” when reading reviews. And there is an endless amount of videos on Utube to entertain someone for the rest of their life. The way the world and knowledge has opened up to me is beyond words.
But I don’t care for social media. Facebook is nice to see old friends and girlfriends, seeing how their doing but I don’t need to see what they are eating for dinner and such. Some of it is just ridiculous. I’m a private person so I’m not into posting much either. And like on Twitter, people seem to be real cruel assholes knowing they can hide behind their computer. Sometimes comments can be hysterical like when Trump lost the election. But as a whole I don’t have time to waste playing on social media all day, telling someone how cute their kid is after the gizillion pics…….ugh.
I’ll end this by saying…even though it’s awesome how much info is at your fingertips, I’M SOO GLAD I DIDN’T GROW UP WITH THE INTERNET AND CELL PHONES. Everyone now walks around staring at their phone, it’s absolutely ridiculous. We created a bunch of phone zombies.
And I’ll never be one.