Is this well-intentioned or just plain rude?

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.

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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…