Is this well-intentioned or just plain rude? 125



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Yesterday I was at lunch with some friends and we got into a discussion about our visits to the Apple store. Now, I am an Apple lover. I have an iPhone, my family got me an iPad for my 65th birthday and my Christmas present to my husband (mainly for the benefit of myself!) was an iMac computer. I love the technology and I love that I can keep up and in touch with my cousins living overseas, my grandkids and the rest of my friends and family. While I’m no tech-head, I do consider myself somewhat proficient in the language of technology.

But some of my friends aren’t so immersed in the digital age and this causes big problem when we walk into the Apple store. You see, most of the people working there don’t expect me to know as much as I do so they begin by dumbing down their language and treating me a little like a pre-schooler in class. It doesn’t bother me too much – my grey hair and wrinkles definitely have something to do with it, but a friend of mine finds it infuriating. She also understands technology very well however she finds it downright rude when people assume her age means she doesn’t know too much about technology.

I can understand her point of view, that it is ageism at its finest and possibly a dose of ignorance from younger generations. But there is a flip side. What about another friend, Joan, who doesn’t know anything? Who is just learning how to use an iPad? She doesn’t know how to set up wifi, how to connect a printer on AirPrint or how to save bookmarks. So when the Apple store attendants speak to her they get their tone exactly right – and she loves it because they take it easy with her and don’t overwhelm her with information and technical terms.

It’s a difficult situation – do those who understand technology just accept this “ageism” because for some people, it is necessary, or is it in fact, blatantly rude and should it be changed?

The fear I have that if everyone was assumed to have a strong level of knowledge is that people like Joan who don’t already have that will be turned off the idea of learning further because it’s just too hard.

Personally, I believe that those of us who understand technology need to deal with the “dumbed down” talk at the start of each technology consultation and just politely point out that we actually have some level of prior knowledge because otherwise people like Joan will forever feel the strain of not having embraced technology earlier.


I’m curious about what you think – is dumbed down technology speak to people who look “old” blatant rude ageism that needs to stop? Or is it good intentioned and helpful to those of us who are just getting started? Share your thoughts in the comments below… 


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I think that it is much easier for those who have greater knowledge to let the Apple people know that they understand than it is for people less informed to ask for help. I like the way the attendants in my Apple Store in Penrith check out the level of help required .

    1 REPLY
    • That’s the way….if ppl took the time to find out just where each other’s level of knowledge is, communication would be clearer.

  2. I think we over 60s are being hypersensitive. The store assistants treat everyone over the age of 25 the same.

  3. I think the problem is the retail attendants working in this industry,surely in their training they are taught how to establish at what level of understanding the customer has.Sadly in the retail industry it is very difficult to find quality staff who actually listen to the customer needs.

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  4. I think this is making mountains out of molehills. It doesn’t take much for the attendant to realise how much or how little a person knows about technology. If they say something you find offensive it’s easy to politely say yes I know, I’ve been into technology for years, or talk back to them at their own level, politely of course.

    I have to wonder are some of us in the older generation getting a bit to touchy.

  5. Faults on both sides here. Young people seem to be born with technology in their blood. In most situations they do know more than us. I wouldn’t feel too upset about it. In spite of all we have learned, we can always learn something new. At least the attendants have given you service, which is a rare thing these days. Perhaps they could ask what knowledge you have and serve you in the appropriate manner.

  6. Not a problem for me, I am up with the technology, have ipad, iPhone etc, have set them up for friends. I figure I can always learn something from the young people in the Apple shop.

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  7. I think it is well intentioned and definitely not rude. It would be rude to treat everyone as if they already have a high level of knowledge/ability – making people feel they are stupid because they don’t. Hopefully the customer makes it clear at the beginning that they have a) no knowledge, b) some knowledge, or c) they are quite proficient, and, also hopefully, the retail assistant pays attention to what is said and adjusts their language accordingly.

    I think we all get a little (for some read “a lot”) over sensitive about ageism, sexism etc. If any retail assistant is truly being condescending or sexist it is quite easy to recognise and deal with in a humorous way. Never get upset about someone else’s problem…they’re not worth the emotional effort!!,

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  8. I don’t think it’s rude at all,however if you know a bit just inform whoever assists you that you have knowledge of some kind and explain what,I know very little but love my iPad for contacts with family friends ,would love to learn more though ,for them to be too advanced with their advice for those learning would be a bit rude I think

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