Time Magazine

Keeping Current

Tracey Columns

Dear Tracey,

I had a little disagreement with my good friend the other day and we decided to let you weigh in.  (Just so you know, we are both women. I am 68 and she is 72.)

I was telling her that I really like to stay current. I watch the news, read the paper, and spend time on my favorite web sites. I find it hard enough that my age seems to push me on the other side of most things. Knowing what’s going on in the world helps me feel like I still have a brain and something to contribute to conversations and discussions beyond the answer to a “Jeopardy” question.

My friend disagreed. She says the news bores and depresses her and she has no use for computers. Her belief is that the knowledge she has acquired over the years is more than enough to make her opinion valid, that people need to know how things were and that an older person’s perspective is worthwhile in and of itself.

What do you think?


Friends Who Disagree

Dear Readers,

I hope this wasn’t a serious disagreement between two friends, especially since I think both of you are at least a little bit right!

It is a sad reality that in our youth driven culture, aging seems to separate us from others. While the distance we feel from the twenty and thirty somethings seems quite understandable, it does feel a little pesky when subsequent generations seem happy to push us aside.

But I tend to believe that it’s only possible to push Boomers and Seniors into oblivion if they are willing to be pushed! I also think if we are to continue to feel worthwhile, especially for our own well being, it is up to us to meet our culture half way. And on a loftier, perhaps more optimistic level, if we continue to actively participate in society, we might actually change the limiting and yes, degrading stereotypes people hold for those of us over fifty! Frankly, I think this has already begun.

So yes, I think it’s good to stay current. For starters, it does stimulate the brain. It also helps make an individual feel part of the larger picture and, since isolation is one of the things people in the second half often battle, why not embrace every opportunity to feel connected?

I also can fully agree with your friend; the news is boring and depressing. But the mistake I see people making is that they inundate themselves in broadcast news, mindlessly roaming through one so-called “news” program after another. This 24/7 media cycle we’re on can’t possibly be in any of our best interests. I advise people to select one evening new program (I prefer the coverage PBS produces) and then do something else. You can always get your local news from the newspaper or the Internet if you use computers.

Naturally our collective wisdom is something we should not only value, but celebrate. Younger people can learn from both our successes and our failures. However, if this is all we have to offer, what does the other person possibly get from our interaction? Think about it this way. How thrilled would you be if a thirty year old friend only talked about what she knew? Would this self-absorption drive you a little batty? True interaction of the generations is the best for everyone involved.

I hope this difference between you and your friend is truly a “little one.”  Good friends are hard to come by and it’s downright impossible to agree on everything 100% of the time.

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