You know the “grandkids equals free tech support” TV ad that everyone over 60 hates? That ad is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to one of the top two senior stereotypes—the one that says we’re technophobes. (Top stereotype number 2? “Seniors don’t care about sex.”)
Think it’s an exaggeration? Just Google “Grandma finds the internet meme images” and you’ll see. (Since apparently you’re not capable of conducting a Google search, click here to let us Google that for you!)
These senior-technophobe stereotypes aren’t just on TV. They’re in ads, marketing emails and brochures, along with online blogs and articles for and about older people. The illustrations come from libraries of stock images—photographs that are cast, posed and shot by people who have never met an actual older person in real life. The idea of seniors that these photos present is so outmoded, the models might as well be wearing togas. Most of the people look puzzled, confused or baffled, squinting at the screens with glasses perched on their noses or gaping in astonishment. (Or blowing smoke out of their ears like the man in the photo above, which is titled “Too difficult.”)
The photos and their titles are pretty funny. But when you get past the LOL factor, remember that these images shape the way the world sees us and our relationship with technology—and they may even shape the way we see ourselves.
We ran a search for the term “seniors using technology” in a popular stock library and here’s what we found—the silly, the condescending and the just plain laughable. By the way, the titles are real!
1. “Shocked senior couple with a laptop computer”
2. “Woman with a laptop looking surprisingly [sic] at computer”
3. “Senior man who is very modern”
4. “Shocked couple with tablet”
5. “Senior couple confused by tablet PC” (Maybe because it’s facing the wrong way?)
6. “Four glum seniors huddle around computer, looking disappointed”
7. “Grandpa DJ”
8. “Adorable couple”
9. “Elderly gentleman with smartphone” (or, elderly gentleman who just discovered online porn?)
10. “Senior couple with smartphone” (Yes, they might be talking to each other.)
11. “Confused in front of the laptop”
12. “Elderly couple having fun with the laptop outdoors” (Looks like fun, doesn’t it?)
13. “Exploring the web”
14. “Senior woman in casuals using social media on her Smartphone”
Yay for technology and seniors!
Which one’s the funniest/saddest?