In the Covid19 era, Kit Shepherd reflects on the shifting roles some of us experience as we move to online meetings:
In my group I’m the oldest – and the convenor. Up until the ‘physical isolation’, I held strong roles in the area of face-to-face communication: welcoming new people as volunteers or guests, hosting dinners for seven people at fortnightly meetings round my dining table, co-ordinating monthly film-and-feast nights (including organising work-teams, meal preparation and presentation); facilitating meetings, and corresponding with a number of people over details. My people-skills and food-skills were valued and productive in building connection and harmony.
With every gathering now online, my interpersonal and culinary skills and strengths are not so needed and not visible.
There is a generational element to this; and the word ‘ageism’ hovers round this process.
Those with different skills – around technology – are coming to the fore. It occurs to me that it’s a time for all of us to be alert to the operation of ageism, for digital ‘immigrants’ to not feel sidelined on the basis of age. And I guess I need to recognise that not all young people are tech whizzes either! And this is not to say that people in their later years can’t become more tech savvy. But the time that technology sucks from our day, takes away from those precious other activities that involve personal contact. And there are many non-technical activities that have been fostered by a long life, and that also ask for my time.
I think it’s important to acknowledge this shift of roles – due to circumstances – and to honour the waning functions and grieve the losses, so that we can welcome the gains. Otherwise we feel resentful or unfulfilled without knowing why. And we need to move forward to welcome the new, while still having connection to our youthful vigour.
Kit Shepherd. Transition Bondi, May 2020