The Mountain Times

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Grumblings: today’s ‘communications’

Recently, in a conversation at one of those networking events, I was encouraged to, "Push it again, harder."  I stared at the person with a blank look on my face and then he said, "Y'know:  puusshh it hhhhaaaarrrrderrr."

My reply was, "I don't push it again, harder. If I can't push whatever I am pushing on the first try, I give up. I go get my wife and we push it together. If that doesn't work, we usually agree to leave it where it is."

He stared at me for a few seconds with a blank look on his face and said, "Right, whatever," and waved at an imaginary person across the room while making his excuses to get away from me as quickly as possible.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel tired when people my age tell me they are training for a triathlon, biking to Connecticut this weekend, just got back or are just about to head off to the gym. Don't get me wrong, that people with as much or more grey hair than mine want to swim across Lake Champlain, well that's great. I am impressed. But let me get back to my gardening, because just the thought of all that effort makes me tired.

Now, about networking, what happened to just meeting people? Remember when you would go out and talk to people at professional, club, church or social gatherings? The whole point was to have a pleasant time. Maybe you would meet someone, maybe you wouldn't.

Today, it's almost like auditioning for the circus. Everyone is in high gear with their "elevator speeches" and their power-ties and -blouses. You've got to keep in motion, stay upbeat, find the common denominator, trade business cards (or bump smart phones), and on to the next person. Around everyone goes until the hors d'oeuvres run out or the bartender offers a merciful, "Last call."
And smart phones, I hate the idea of smart phones. I've got one and if it is so smart, why can't I figure out how to operate it? You'll notice they didn't come out with a product called smart caller or smart owner.

You want to know how smart these phones are? This is the truth: I had one that wouldn't answer a call. The phone was ringing, but I couldn't answer it. First, it wanted my password. The phone kept on ringing. Then it wanted to know my plans and check my emails. The phone was still ringing.  Next, it somehow connected me to the Internet and, finally, the phone stopped ringing.
To this day, I don't know who called. But I do know there is a fee if you return a smart phone to the dealer, even right away, even if the big sign over the register proclaims how important they think you are. They want you to be happy, but as it turned out, not that happy.

Sorry for the rant, but sometimes it helps just to let off a little steam. After all, Aging in Place doesn't happen by accident.

Scott Funk is Vermont's leading Aging in Place advocate, writing and speaking around the state on issues of concern to retirees and their families.