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A Look At Social Isolationism From A Technology Empowerment Perspective

 Social Isolationism: Technology Empowerment for All

Believe me, I am well aware of the frustrations related to the usage of personal technology as we have launched and developed GroovyTek. For nearly four years I have been able to witness first hand the range of frustrations folks are experiencing that are directly related to the usage of their technological devices. To be totally frank, I find myself becoming more and more overwhelmed by the advancement of technology and many times throughout the week can be heard saying out loud, “I need a GroovyTek trainer.”

Yet, I do think it is important to take a step back from the day to day frustrations we associate with technology and take a look at just how incredible the advancements have become. We really are living in a revolutionary moment and technology may very well end up being the true legacy of our time.  As a society living through the digital revolution, we truly are on the forefront of massive change in terms of how life’s challenges are faced and ultimately overcome. We see day in and day out that technology is often the tool for that change. As annoying as things can be, there really is some truth to the saying, “Oh, isn’t there an App for that?”

This period of disruption is leading more and more people to look at existing societal issues that can be improved by the development or the deployment of a technology-related product or solution.

While there are many different lenses through which we can view this opportunity to leverage technology for positive change, one growing societal issue that seems to be ripe for improvement, by applying the advancements of technology, would have to be the growing concern around social isolationism.

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If you dig into the topic of social isolationism it becomes clear that it really ties to the basic human need for connection and belonging with other humans. The psychological impact of losing human connection for people can be devastating. It often spirals to the point of people seeing ghosts in a subconscious effort to connect with something (I am not making this up, see this article).

While this is not the forum to dig into the impact of social media on social isolationism, although it really is a fascinating case with many contradictions, including what the impact of social media on millennials is, and their increasing social isolationism. It is a good time to look at what technology tools could be deployed to help combat the rising cases of social isolationism in the baby boomer generation.

With the “Age Wave” upon us and growing, people are finding themselves living in a scenario that could lead to increasing feelings of isolation. There are people every day who are outliving their spouses and partners. Heck, just due to the sheer numbers, there are now increasingly more people who are outliving their entire families.

So imagine these trends occuring, and then just to pour even more flame on the fire, consider the additional elements of isolation that develop when folks are not taught how to keep up with the means of communication that are trending in society today. There are many people these days that you simply can’t reach via a landline phone call. There are many people now that only communicate via text or do most of their communicating and connecting on social media platforms. Imagine if you are unaware of these means of communication and how isolated you might feel if your interactions with those you know or who are in your family/network just aren’t responding or reaching out to you. As I am sure you can see, it can easily feed on itself.

Technology training and awareness can be a solid part of the equation and part of the solution. We are going to work hard as an organization to develop a program focused on human connection via technology that we can utilize to help folks use a technological device to reduce their feelings of isolation.

A few initial thoughts for the program to be developed are:

• Help establish a family and friends group text for connection and emergencies

• Establish Social Media Accounts and help establish a network within them

• Teach FaceTime or Skype functionalities, establish accounts and shortcuts

This program is in its infancy, but it is something we are committed to as an organization. If you have any ideas of elements that we should look to incorporate and include, we are all ears. Please feel free to give us a call or send us an email with any ideas or thoughts you may have on this important topic.

Dear GroovyTek,

I’ve just turned 84 years old and I’ve had it with my husband!  We’ve had various computers for over 20 years, and he refuses to learn anything about them.  We started with Macs, but have ended up with PCs.  The problem is that my husband still keeps in touch with his professional colleagues via email, but he makes me do all the work. I’m getting tired of starting up the computer and printing important emails for him.  What would you do in my situation?

Signed, Grumpy Tech User

Dear Grumpy Tech User,

We hear you! Technology is stressful, and when it stresses your marriage, it can seem unbearable.  We have a couple of ideas for you depending upon your ultimate needs.   If you can’t convince your husband to learn technology on his own, or through a GroovyTek trainer, then the goal is to make accessing the technology as easy as possible for you.  We recommend that you ditch the computer with all of its accompanying issues and complexity, and streamline your life with a tablet or iPad. A tablet or an iPad will provide you with email, and some other interesting possibilities, while still being large enough to read comfortably.  

Do you really need to print? We recommend saving trees, if at all possible!! If you do need to print, then you’ll need to have Internet service to your house to be able to use a wireless printer which is the current standard of printer. You have Internet service to your house right now for your computer, but we can’t be sure whether your router can provide WiFi coverage. If you have a wireless router for the internet, you can connect to the internet that way with your tablet or iPad. Your tablet or iPad will also wirelessly command your printer to print.

If you can go without printing, then we’d recommend that you buy a tablet or iPad with a data plan through a cellular carrier’s network. This is the easiest option overall.

We wish you happy computing and a reduction in grumpiness!


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