Just Accept Our Future

1 Jan

I’m sure the author – with the corporate board prodding him on – wants to extol the gosh darn intrepidity of those amazing matures and how smartphones are good for them. It’s yet another racist riff on how talented those Asians are. Except, a little reality peeks through.

“We just heard stories from our sales staff about a lot of elderly people coming in and saying that they wanted a smartphone, even though they didn’t know the first thing about using it,” the twentysomething Kim said.

Lee Seung-hee, a member of SK’s corporate responsibility unit who helps operate the classes, says she knows of one 86-year-old smartphone user who sends regular texts to his sons-in-law, both in their 60s.

On a recent Friday afternoon, the smartphone class was wrapping up its 10-week session, during which college-age volunteers had worked one on one with more than a dozen seniors.

As usual, Lee Kyung-ok sat in the front row with an instructor young enough to be her granddaughter. Lee Sodam, 22, says she quickly learned to respect the drive and intellect of the older woman.

All isn’t well though in the drive to push product.

In another corner of the room, 76-year-old Chul Dal-su wasn’t having much fun as he struggled to make his arthritic fingers go where he wanted them to.

“It’s really hard,” he said. Chul had owned a regular cellphone but lost it, so he graduated to the smartphone, a step that for him was like jumping from first grade to graduate school.

I would think that, after a lifetime of real accomplishments, peer pressure would be the last nuisance these matures would have to deal with. And, this is just sick. Classes for a smartphone, at that age?

Before students received their smartphone diplomas, teachers held a texting competition. The class was asked to answer questions such as how to locate the applications they could use to find historical places or hospitals.

They were challenged to send a text to the head instructor with answers to all six questions. Lee went to work, her head down, shoulders hunched, turning now and then to check the progress of her gray-haired competitors.

In the end, she was quickest on the draw, and won a four-pack of grape juice, which she proudly clutched to her chest.

Lee Sodam, the young mentor, couldn’t help but smile.

“She’s cool,” she said. And Lee Kyung-ok beamed even brighter.

Yeah, let’s not teach these people to invest their savings, or teach kids about saving money. Let’s waste their days and force them to take tests (?!) about tapping keyboards! Teacher says, “Every time a sap raps a keyboard, a salesperson has an orgasm!”


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