Internet epiphanies for older people in lockdown

Clock says 5 to 12 is the teacheable moment in lockdown

Internet epiphanies in lockdown are far from rare

I’ve been preparing my talk for M365 MAY (Australia and New Zealand) and I needed a slide to illustrate the fact that LOCKDOWN is a teachable moment. Hence the bad drawing, a re-do of an older one.

I’ve already discovered many older people who have had internet epiphanies in lockdown. We needed new tools, that’s why!

Suddenly I —and untold other old people—were forced to switch personalities from capable, healthy, autonomous,  productive and sociable to vulnerable, dependent, passive and isolated. We had been people who helped other people. Overnight we became people who needed help and protection.

But hey, something exciting happened. We rushed to learn bits of  technology that would help to keep us sane and useful during a global pandemic.

You can help an older person now

If you know someone old or almost old who is struggling with an internet challenge, or longing to master an app for entertainment, shopping or communication, reach out. Teach what they want to know, nothing else. Teach slowly, no! even more slowly! Show them, don’t talk at them. Don’t use jargon.

A helping hand can enrich our lives in ways you couldn’t imagine. Some of us are feeling a bit shaky. Our purpose in life, our sense of competence, our need to be useful, our hunger for company—they’ve all been shaken up in this global pandemic. You’ll be doing much more than showing someone those three little blue dots in a Zoom window, or how to make a Gravatar, or how to send a photo from your phone. So be patient with us, take a little time and enrich the quality of an older person’s life. We’re ready! Help us!

Zoom is the app of the moment but it’s certainly not the only one. I’ve had three encounters with MS Teams in lockdown, for instance. MS Teams is an unlikely technology for an 80-year-old self-non-employed work-at-home Mac-user without an IT department—but cool! MS Teams has many charms.

I think I’ve made this point before. But it does fascinate me. I’m collecting personal stories about your internet epiphanies of lockdown.

Stay strong.



9 thoughts on “Internet epiphanies for older people in lockdown

  1. Sadje says:

    This is a good point.

  2. LA says:

    No epiphanies yet. Just concentrating on staying sane one day at a time

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Sometimes that’s hard work, isn’t it?

      1. LA says:

        Certainly is!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I just taught my spiritual director, an 81 year old nun, how to Face Time. Pretty cool since I did it over the phone!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:


      1. Elizabeth says:

        On to Zoom for her next.

  4. Joared says:

    I’m getting to learn to practice what I’ve preached to others about graciously accepting help from others, rather than complaining about the need, as it makes life much more pleasant for the helper. I continue encouraging any of my non-computer user contacts to join me as I offer any remote help I can, and promise to be patient, non-judgemental about errors which we will laugh about — but still no takers.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You have a wonderfully sensible and generous approach.