This is an era where everything can be digitized. Clothing, food, housing, and transportation are orderly arranged in a smart phone, and the screen is unlocked to light up life.However, convenience and efficiency do not belong to everyone. For many middle-aged and elderly people, smart phones and everything related to them mean “trouble”, and failure to solve the “trouble” will give rise to new problems. I don’t know how to buy tickets online, so I have to queue up at the window of the train station; I have never used taxi-hailing software, and I can’t stop the car when I am in a hurry. I don’t know what to do with mobile payment and I have to face the embarrassment of finding change…
Sina Technology He Chang
Coupled with the ubiquitous anti-epidemic health code, communication big data itinerary card, and health declaration filling… the epidemic is like a convex lens, which not only magnifies these dilemmas infinitely, but also makes “no health code encounter rejection” and “cannot scan the code.” Encounters such as pitting and riding have become the focus. Behind the difficulty of walking is the burning hearts.
An old man was unable to scan the health code because he did not have a mobile phone when he was on the bus, and was refused by the driver.Photo/CCTV Finance
More than 20 years ago, Nicholas Negroponte mentioned in his book “Digital Survival”, although many people worry that information technology will exacerbate the polarization of society and make the social camp increasingly split into information affluent The real gap lies between the two generations, the rich and the poor, and even the first and third worlds. “When children dominate global information resources and find that only adults need apprenticeship licenses, we must find new hope and dignity in unprecedented places.”
Now, the prophecy has come true. The digitized high-speed train is galloping past, full of laughter, and heading for a new future. But there is still such a group of people, they are trying their best to chase, but they only have a lonely look at the rear of the car.
In Nicholas Negroponte’s view, each generation of mankind will be more digital than the previous generation, that is to say, they were once us, and we will eventually become them.
Fall behind unconsciously
Chi Zhi breathed a sigh of relief after entering and leaving the community no longer required to show the health code, because “I finally don’t have to worry about my mother finding the health code again.”
When the health code began to be fully promoted, Chi Zhi had already returned to the city where she was working. She could only do it by herself first, and then taught her mother how to apply step by step through the phone on the phone. “It took more than half an hour to get things done in five minutes.”
This is just the beginning. How to call up the health code is the bigger problem. Chi Zhi has received a call from his mother for help more than once, either at the entrance of the community or in front of the supermarket. There is only one theme—— “The health code is lost.” Later, she sent a hand-drawn flowchart to her mother. “My mom just can’t remember where it is, so it might seem more intuitive.”
A flowchart drawn by Chi Zhi for his mother.Picture/Respondent
Ying Xue’s father still can’t remember, even if Ying Xue’s phone lock screen password is “000000”, “he won’t remember the next day”. Ying Xue told Sina Technology that, unlike her guessing input when she forgets her password, her father did not dare to try. The reason is particularly simple, “for fear of breaking the phone.” Ying Xue has repeatedly explained that the phone is not that easy to break, and it is impossible to restart it, but it is of little use. “My dad said directly, restart, are you sure you can recover? If not and you are not at home, what should I do? His definition of’broken’ is relatively broad, and what he cannot solve is collectively referred to as’broken’, so he I use my smart phone carefully, and the question I ask the most is:’Can you press this?'”
Not only smart phones, but also in the use of various digital products. Zhou Li’s mother is a researcher at a national scientific research institution. In his words, she is a “girl in science and engineering for more than 40 years”, but she has almost no knowledge of digital products. The “Apple Family Bucket” at home is basically idle, and the level of WeChat usage remains at voice calls and videos. During the call phase, never post or scan Moments.
During the epidemic, the research institute where Zhou Li’s mother worked requested a video conference through the Zoom App. Zhou Li witnessed the “magic operation” of his mother using the iPad to turn off the camera, microphone, or sound. “She also complained that the iPad I bought was broken and not easy to use.”
“Perhaps for the elderly, no matter how simple the user interface is, it is not simple enough. I can’t wait to add prompts and guidance at every step.” Gong Ning sighed. After her father learned to shop online, she suddenly developed a kind of The mood to see the baby speak. In her eyes, the father who has been a soldier all his life has been very good since childhood. After retirement, he looked like a different person. He was unfamiliar with smart phone operation and was unwilling to learn. “Teaching is not smooth, and learning is very slow. It is really through hard practice and unremitting efforts that I learned to send red envelopes and Moments.”
Gong Ning believes that there is a cycle of “chicken or egg” between not wanting to learn and learning slowly. There is a factor behind it-the psychological gap. “It is estimated that my dad feels that he is lagging behind the times. Relatively speaking, smart phones are too new. He lacks self-confidence, does not have such a great motivation to learn, and he is embarrassed to always ask me. They may have many people in this era. It’s all like this.”
“I don’t want children to teach”
In the matter of learning to use smartphones, Zhao Li, who was just 60 years old this year, has already lost count of how many tempers her daughter has sent to herself. “She was so angry at the end every time.”
In fact, most of them are extremely simple questions, such as the sharing of Taobao products. Zhao Li once wanted her daughter to help buy a jacket, but she found that the link could not be sent. Share-copy the link-long press on WeChat-click to paste-send. This is the chain that my daughter taught when she went home from vacation, but Zhao Li got stuck when she reached the second step, “Can’t find it. Can’t remember”.
A screenshot of the WeChat conversation between Zhao Li and her daughter about “Taobao Commodity Sharing”.Picture/Respondent
Zhao Li made a phone call to her daughter, and finally successfully sent the link under the remote guidance, which took a long time-more than twenty minutes. As the voice on the other end of the phone grew louder, Zhao Li knew that her daughter had lost patience. “She used to yell later. I didn’t want to delay her time. She was angry over there, and I was also anxious.”
Like Zhao Li’s bewilderment when facing Taobao, Jing Su’s mother would not look for goods or place an order. The only smoothly completed action was “click in”. Thus, Jing Su became a “Taobao Instructions Repeater”. “I’m more irritable. My mother will get angry when she asks too much. She really doesn’t understand at all. I understand the truth. I can’t help but quarrel with her next time.”
62-year-old Wang Jiangyan is ready to start learning to use Taobao and Alipay. “It’s really inconvenient not to shop online. You have to let your children buy it.” She regards payment as one of the most difficult functions in the use of smartphones. Once, she bought a watermelon for 8.4 yuan, accidentally hit an extra decimal point when using WeChat to pay, and spent 84 yuan, and then ran back to the boss to get a refund. Another time was to buy roast chicken, “I don’t know how to do it”. There was a situation of underpayment, and I realized that the amount was wrong when I entered the house. Oolong has become more frequent, so she decided to use WeChat to pay once a day, and finally became proficient.
“It’s too hard to learn.” It is common to get stuck. Every time at this point, the supermarket becomes Wang Jiangyan’s best training ground. She will observe how the people in front pay when queuing to check out, and will also ask the salesperson for instructions on the scanning process. “I don’t want children to teach.” Wang Jiangyan hopes that his sister can teach her, not only because of her peers, but more importantly, “I still can’t learn in a short time, so I have to let people who have enough time to come.”
It is not only the learners who are stumped, but also those who are responsible for teaching. Gu Qian’s grandfather is in his eighties this year. He is unable to make phone calls due to his poor ear hearing, so WeChat is upgraded to an alternative communication channel. “It took me a long time to teach how to enter WeChat. My mother lacked patience and I collapsed. In the end, only my husband was still working hard, but the results were very low.” Gu Qian said, grandpa was a doctor and was fluent in English. I learned Japanese by myself. “My grandpa is a relatively easy-to-learn person, but learning to use a smartphone is still too difficult for people his age.”
The 46th “Statistical Report on China’s Internet Development Status” (hereinafter referred to as the “Report”) released by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) shows that as of June 2020, the number of Internet users in my country is 940 million, of which Internet users are 50 years old and above. The proportion of the group increased from 16.9% in March 2020 to 22.8%. The Internet is further penetrating the middle-aged and elderly people, but among them, a considerable number of people are still left behind by this increasingly digital and intelligent world.
Figure/46th “Statistical Report on China’s Internet Development Status”
One result, two mindsets
“They are not being left behind by digitization, but they are unwilling to believe in everything that contradicts their own cognition for many years.” When it comes to parents’ resistance to smartphones, Jin Xi’s tone was helpless.
The “Report” shows that the current number of non-netizens in my country is 463 million, and lack of skills, educational level restrictions and insufficient equipment are the main reasons why they do not go online.
Figure/46th “Statistical Report on China’s Internet Development Status”
“Of these three items, my parents only meet the first one, but the core problem is definitely not this.” Although he is engaged in Internet-related work, Jinxi must open a mobile phone hotspot to connect to the computer during the Spring Festival holiday every year, because there is no WiFi at home. . “My dad said that he and my mom don’t use digital products at all. WiFi is just a display, which is a waste of money.”
In Jin Xi’s narrative, except for the absence of WiFi, what bothered him was the rejection of new things by his parents: the mobile phone must be turned off when at home, and no one can be contacted at all; he does not use mobile banking, every time he goes home He has to give him a large pile of cash; his mother knows little about shopping on Taobao, but he wants to teach but can’t get a response. Only when the wrong purchase is made, he will receive a call from his mother asking him to negotiate with the store to return the goods… “I and them Having said it many times, I can’t teach it, but my parents insist that they don’t need it and don’t want to learn.”
Wu Min’s parents are just the opposite. In addition to downloading American dramas to learn English on the video platform and bringing Wu Min’s father to watch the live broadcast, Wu Min’s mother also fumbled to buy her insurance on Alipay. She is proud of her parents’ open and positive attitude and is also happy to answer their questions about using smartphones. “The crux of many middle-aged and elderly people is that they are self-righteous and self-proclaimed, so they will reject these things. I’m glad my parents don’t.”
However, there are still some people who have reached the same result as Kim Suk’s parents, but their starting point and mentality are completely different.
For example, singer Li Jian, not only does he have no WeChat, but when he exchanged cell phone numbers with Li Ronghao in the backstage of “The Voice of China”, he pulled out an old Nokia full-keyboard phone. Many friends complained that Li Jian did not use WeChat, could not get through the phone, and could only send text messages. He explained in a speech that the mobile phone brought him more interference, so this was indeed intentional. In his opinion, for people who make music and create, “what is needed is knowledge and wisdom, and a lot of information is not very useful.”
Screenshot of Li Jian’s speech at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in 2015.Picture/Network
As a “heterogeneous” who is also far away from WeChat, Bai Yansong said frankly that he does not want to stay in so many circles of friends and see how others are living. After all, he doesn’t even understand how he lives. “I think time is limited, there are only 24 hours a day, and there are not so many valuable things in the circle of friends.” He even described mobile phones as “becoming handcuffs.” “I’m not very close to the phone,” he said.
They obviously can live a more digital life, but they don’t hesitate to stay where they are and spend more time on reading, creating, fitness, listening to music…
On the one hand, I can’t and don’t want to learn, on the other hand I can but don’t need it. One direction and two mentalities are all personal choices.
Can you leave a window
However, the available space is becoming smaller and smaller.
Before the National Day holiday, Zhao Li and her wife went to the botanical garden in the suburbs to enjoy the flowers, but they couldn’t even enter the door. “They asked to scan the code before buying a ticket, and showed them the health code. They said that ours is in the city and it has expired. Now we use the provincial one.”
Is there a difference between “in the city” and “in the province”? Zhao Li didn’t understand, but after studying for a long time to update and showing no avail to the ID card, she realized that she and her wife might have gone for nothing. “If you don’t have a health code, you won’t be allowed to go shopping, no way.”
In fact, even if you have a health code, you may be “rejected” by tourist attractions.
In order to implement the notice of the General Office of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on the improvement of the ticket reservation management system, and to ensure the safety of tourists under the premise of improving the epidemic prevention and control mechanism, during the National Day holiday, many A-level tourist attractions across the country follow the “limit, appointment, and peak shift “Requirements, full implementation of ticket reservations, except for special groups such as the elderly, strictly control the number of on-site ticket sales and on-site ticket collection.
As a “special group”, 64-year-old Qi He came to the gate of the Forbidden City and realized that he had to make an appointment, and the tickets for a few days before and after were sold out at the end of September. So he took two selfies with the crowds as the background. “All come, leave a memory.”
The 30,000 daily tickets for the Forbidden City were sold out at the end of September.Picture/CCTV Network Quick Look
The level of digitalization of the Forbidden City is obvious to all. During the National Day holiday in 2017, the Forbidden City tested online ticket sales for the first time. On October 10 of that year, all offline ticket windows were removed. In the past three years, the ticketing system of the Forbidden City has been gradually upgraded, but to this day, tourists still gather at the offline ticket window, hoping to buy tickets on the spot.
Not only tourist attractions, but some of the vehicle management offices that only received cash in the past have gone to the other extreme-the only payment method for each business is mobile payment, and no cash is accepted. Shang Chongsheng, deputy director of the Research Center for Urban Safety and Social Management of Wuhan University, once encountered the situation of scanning the QR code to make an appointment and having to scan the QR code to pay after arriving at the scene. “I asked them what to do with people who don’t have mobile phones or people who don’t know how to scan codes. They said,’Who doesn’t have a mobile phone now?'”
The same goes for catering stores. At the moment, even if it is a noodle restaurant less than ten square meters, the tabletop is brightly posted with “scan code to order”. Wu Min recalled that once I went to eat roast duck, the next table was a gray-haired grandfather with a very young boy. “Grandpa ordered a piggy-shaped bean paste bun for the boy. He ate a bowl of rice by himself. It was an ordinary two people, but grandpa didn’t know how to scan the code to order. It took a long time to study with the waiter to make the order. I can’t forget it now.”
The “scan code order” sign in the catering store.Figure / Sina Technology
Wu Min said that this reminded her of her grandpa who had passed away for many years. “In order to cheer me up and take me to eat delicious food, maybe he will work so hard to learn to scan the code and order food.” At this point, Wu Min paused, “It’s just that the process seems too sad, anyway. , I still hope to leave a window for them.”
Shang Chongsheng believes that the current digital advancement is “a bit too much”, which he calls “information technology against humanity.” “There is nothing wrong with the need for epidemic prevention and control, but now everything requires scanning codes and appointments, all offline windows are cancelled, all are moved online, and the process is very complicated. Even for people who operate frequently, they may not be able to get everything done. Middle-aged and elderly people who can use it are excluded.” He pointed out that “everyone has a smartphone and can use it” is a very big misunderstanding. “This is not right. There are some people who don’t know the words well, and people with disabilities. The online design should take into account the actual conditions of this part of the offline group.”
A passenger is asking the airport staff how to scan the QR code to register.Figure / Sina Technology
Small but tangible changes
After all, the common design of smartphones and most apps has broken away from the long-standing cognitive system of some middle-aged and elderly people.
Gu Qian’s grandfather couldn’t understand why a long press of a WeChat conversation would bring up a line of function keys. “He can only memorize by rote, which one to order first, which one to order, and which one to order last.”
Compared with the younger generation who have grown up with digitalization and are called “digital natives”, middle-aged and elderly people are forced to live in the role of “digital immigrants”. Shang Chongsheng emphasized that their lives and memories, including the skills they mastered, are a representation and symbol of the past era, and no one can transcend the limitations imposed on them by the era. “It is true that learning can bridge the gap with the times, but it is always difficult for some people to adapt to a new era.”
The history of the evolution of production tools is also a history of elimination related to “experience”. There are those who stand on the forefront of the times, and there are countless people who have been submerged. In the wave, technology companies put aside a leaf boat and brought some seemingly small but practical changes.
Huawei, Xiaomi and other mobile phone manufacturers have introduced simple mode and minimal desktops suitable for middle-aged and elderly people. You can enlarge icons and fonts, bind desktop icons, voice broadcast and one-key dialing, and support to close the drop-down notification bar and perform remote desktops. Connection etc.
Simple mode in Huawei phones.Figure / Sina Technology
Kiwifruit TV, a smart TV application under iQiyi, launched the “AI Elder Mode” last year. In addition to the design of exclusive pages and non-interactive automatic playback, it also added remote child login and family-friendly payment functions.
The “AI Elder Mode” of Kiwi TV.Picture/Network
Aiming at the middle-aged and elderly people, Alipay launched the “Care Version” mini program in June last year, which integrates common functions such as scanning codes, paying, paying utility bills, and registering for consultation, and enlarges the font. After the applet is added, it will appear in the center of the Alipay homepage and can be accessed directly with one click. According to the “2020 Elderly Digital Life Report” released by Alipay, in the past six months, the number of visits to the “Care Edition” Mini Program has increased by 6.6 times year-on-year.
Voice search has also become the “standard configuration” of the App. Platform-based applications such as JD.com, AutoNavi Maps, Meituan, Baidu, and Quark have added voice input buttons above the keyboard.
Although technology companies are trying hard to meet the needs of middle-aged and elderly people for using smart phones and other digital products, the existence of pre-installed software, “subscription” SMS, permission acquisition, and multiple redundant functions still affects to a certain extent Improve their user experience.
Chi Zhi told Sina Technology what she saw and heard at the airport: Before boarding the plane, the airport staff asked passengers to scan the code and register the civil aviation declaration information. Two men in their 50s did not know how to open the mobile phone and had to go around. Borrow a pen and fill in the form by hand. Facing the man’s request for help, the staff looked at their mobile phones and said, “Everyone’s mobile phones are different, and I don’t understand your model.”
“Enterprises have to assume part of their social responsibilities.” Shang Chongsheng emphasized. For example, he said that while advocating online, companies should open up offline windows as much as possible, so that “outdated” middle-aged and elderly people can enjoy public products and services, and online and offline are combined to truly achieve humanization. “I think our society is cruel, because it often bullies the disadvantaged groups objectively.”
“No” is also a right
The “Thirteenth Five-Year” National Plan for the Development of the Elderly Career and the Elderly Care System (hereinafter referred to as the “Plan”) pointed out that by 2020, the national population of people over 60 years old will increase to about 255 million, accounting for close to 17.8 of the total population. %.
The “Planning” mentioned that relevant industries and enterprises should focus on key areas such as communication services, e-commerce, tourism and leisure, and promote the development and application of products and technologies for the elderly.
Infrastructure construction goes hand in hand with an aging society. At the same time as commercialization, it takes into account the middle-aged and elderly groups and lowers the threshold for their use. This is not only a difficult subject faced by technology companies, but also a direction for the whole society to explore.
An airport sign filled with the health code application steps.Figure / Sina Technology
Shang Chongsheng believes that if there is both the desire to learn and the conditions and environment for learning, most middle-aged and elderly people are still willing to embrace new things, and family members including children are equivalent to the best teachers. But he also added that there are people who have never seen information technology products such as smartphones and computers, and run around every day to make a living without having time to take care of other people… all exist. Even if they have the idea of learning, if there is no time and way to learn, it will not be realized objectively. This created the reality that they entered the digital age at the same time as us, but they have never been integrated into this age. “They have no choice, so I think this is a tragedy.”
Nicholas Negroponte hit the nail on the head: “Every gift of technology or science has its dark side, and digital survival is no exception. As we move toward a digital world, a group of people will be deprived of their rights, or , They feel that their rights have been taken away.”
Based on this background, Shang Chongsheng believes that in addition to children and technology companies, the government is obliged to protect the rights of middle-aged and elderly people, backed by the system, compulsorily retain offline windows, and in personnel supplements, institutional settings, and funding allocations Make arrangements. “Give them a chance to survive in this era.”
In his view, not being able to use a smartphone, not downloading apps, not booking appointments or even scanning codes is a right in itself. “The so-called’outdated’ middle-aged and elderly people can actually have the right to’do not’.”
It is undeniable that, as Nicholas Negroponte predicted, with the development of technology, there will be “lag behind” in every era. This is a necessity. But at any time, we cannot and are not qualified to educate all people in a society or a country to bid farewell to one era and go to another era, regardless of whether we will eventually become them, even if we will never become them.
(Note: Some interviewees in the article are pseudonyms. Sina Technology Zhang Jun, Wang Yadi, and Yang Xuemei also contributed to this article.)