Last December I was blessed by my mom surprise visit from Lithuania. Very interesting visit indeed. Being far away from her I missed out on how much she is left out of the technology. Where at the beginning, it was a matter of choice between using PC and sticking to old ways now being separated actually does you a great deal of a problem, adds additional costs, requires extra effort just to perform simple life tasks. It gave me an idea, what the big changes in the world around us can affect someone like her? Is there a possibility for someone whose parents are on this final decisive stage before submerging themselves into this so important life skill. Maybe it will make you act, or will help trying to negotiate that initial skills have to be obtained sooner rather than later.
1. TV is dead, long live content
I do not have a cable for last 6 years now, not because I don’t want to entertain myself, but I don’t see a point to pay large sums of money to consume content someone else is making me watch. All my escapism needs are met by YouTube and other streaming services, news I watch online anyway. Instead of having to watch morning show on TV, I can find a niche interest like Ben Heck Show, where I, for entertainment, watch electronic engineer build very cool gadgets and entertainment becomes learntentainment. If you like my mom have to pay for a Cable you probably spend close to 100 euro every month.
2. Retail loss is paid by On-Site customers
I believe in helping the local economy, but there is a limit, if I am being sold a poor product or service twice the price I can get online, bad luck. Using online retailers to compare prices and save money is a necessity, local businesses have to move their operation to the web anyway. There are various programs used for bringing local businesses online, money being offered by EU government as we speak. My mother depends on local retailers or at best (or worst) catalogs, she just bought shoes for 60 euro, which she could buy online for 10 euro, pays double for her medication in the pharmacy and pays the loss incurred by inefficient business model.
3. Lost knowledge
Everyone now talks about the knowledge economy, but sadly often that “knowledge” is delivered by people who have no clue. Because ways information is distributed is changing, knowledge of the previous generations becomes less accessible. For example, there is a need for a creative writer Or a translation to a rare language and someone with a great experience needs additional income. If that person is not skilled at using a computer, they are not accessible for most cases. I remember economy lectures on how greater money exchange is boosting the economy, but in a same time such a large portion of the population is being pushed out of the online economy. I mean not as consumers but also as vivid earners and creators.
4. Low Skilled work is decreasing
First, there was agricultural economy where most wealth was created and therefore jobs created. Then there was an industrial revolution and the economy, and then there majority of jobs were manual with a shift towards some having to specialize to maintain and invent machinery. As the machines were powered by coal, those who mine it, made money, but with new advances and regulation very quickly joined welfare. For a good while working for the benefit of the few western countries, it eventually became “cheapest is the best game” and China literally became factory of the world. Almost instantly labour force who spend their lives in a state of false security, went on strikes as their employers moved east, making sure few low skill manufacturers would dare to set up operations. Now, most manufacturing in the area I live in is done by engineers and not your average father of the 3 named Bob. Council official is actually having bigger headache how to employ low skilled part of the population, as those are weakest, least educated and/or new immigrants with little possibility to move up the value chain.
5. Working with hands vs working with head.
I remember when growing up in the farm I had work hard with my father. I think it was his way of education. Every single time he sees me struggle, he repeated “look this is how people work, then they have to work with their hands, the choice is yours, do you want to work with hands or with your head”. In the beginning, we are all healthy and strong, working manual is actually financially more rewarding. It takes some time and persistence to earn as much in professional services. But the difference is, then your knowledge becomes your biggest asset your health factors such as weak joints have less effect on your earning potential. And the more you know, the more you can earn and eventually give back to the society, whereas your health deteriorates there is very few this you can do.
I did not mean for this piece to be depressive, only share my ideas and worry. Also, maybe someone by reading this article will decide to work on including parts of the society in need to the digital age. There is a number of skills that I wish my mom knew (by the way it is impossible to teach a parent) and it warms my heart then someone is helping her learn. The Internet can solve allot of problems and it is unfair that by default it favors someone who grew up with it and excludes the ones who raised them.
P.S. As I wrote this article my mom finally started using laptop for Skype.