Missing Link: Compulsory measure digitization – no room for old people?


“You are forced to use it.” The sentence made me sit up and take notice. I was busy putting my purchases on the treadmill at the supermarket checkout and hadn’t noticed what problem the customer was facing me She had a smartphone in her hand. Perhaps she had tried to pay with it in vain and was now venting her anger.

What is missing: In the fast-paced world of technology, there is often the time to rearrange the many news and backgrounds. At the weekend we want to take it, follow the side paths away from the current, try different perspectives and make nuances audible.

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It was evidently embarrassing to her and she put her accusation into perspective again – “… you could almost say …” – but she was absolutely right: digitization is a compulsory measure. You couldn’t just say it must you say, loud and clear, because far too little is said about it.

Sometimes a responsible person can even be named. Eight years ago, Wolfgang Schäuble forced me to buy a new computer. My old one worked without any problems, but did not meet the requirements for the digital submission of sales tax returns required by the Ministry of Finance. Until then, new acquisitions were only necessary when too many websites on the Internet used technologies that my operating system could no longer cope with. But this was the first time that the coercion did not come from an anonymous market dynamic, but from a state authority. Mr. Schäuble made me pay to ensure that his employees have less work with the figures I submitted. I won’t forget that anytime soon.

Usually, however, the pressure to upgrade is less tangible, and often only felt as an underground threat: If you don’t want a smartphone, you just have to see where you are. Then you can’t rent a city bike or order a transport service that takes you home from the subway station, have to beg in the restaurant for a printed menu and gradually settle in for a socially outcast. Themselves to blame.

Themselves to blame? Most people shouldn’t feel the pressure anyway, but take it for granted that they have to familiarize themselves with new computer and communication systems again and again and at ever shorter intervals. That’s the way it is, if you can’t keep up with the growing demands, you’ll be left behind. People prefer to pull themselves together – unless they are already excited about the latest mobile phone models, swiping happily across the display in search of new apps and enjoying communicating on several channels at the same time.

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