Age and mental nihilism – rejecting change in older age

When I was 12 I got my first computer – a Commodore 64. I remember talking to my Gran about it and saying how it was easy enough to use, even she could. She shook her said and said, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. In her 80s, she never did, but neither did she try.

And a recent comment in a forum, on the subject of WordPress Gutenberg, reminded me of this.

This all went completely over my head. I am just a simple blogger who chose WordPress six years ago because it was the easiest and most intuitive platform for someone new to blogging.
But I am 66 years old, and find adapting to technical changes all but impossible. So for me, the changes to posting and editing might be the last straw for a non–tecchy blogger

Without saying it, he’s repeating the same quote – the idea that when you get to a certain age, you lose the ability to change, learn and adapt. Except, of course, it’s not true – it’s not true for dogs and no different for humans. Indeed, at 66, this is not a particularly old age (in the UK most people would be working at this stage and, I suspect, saying this won’t help your prospects of remaining in work until your retirement). The reality is that, unless you have underlying medical issue, you can continue to learn – maybe a little slower than your younger peers.

The reality is that this is more an act of defeatism when you get older – you’re feeling physically tired and just want an easy life. But framing it as “I don’t want to learn, it’s too much effort” is probably not going to do anybody any favours.

So, we stick to an urban myth about dogs. I desperately hope I don’t become one of these people and want to continue to learn – and the reality, let’s not forget, is that the more you exercise your mind in older age, the more it will help keep your mind engaged.


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