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Surviving as a Digital Immigrant

blogMy sister-in-law shared the idea with me years ago that we are digital immigrants which are defined as “a person born or brought up before the widespread use of digital technology.”  My first major in college was computer science … but I freely admit that I am a digital immigrant. I have gotten used to the idea that you are “talking to” someone even if you haven’t spoken on the phone or in person just by texting and conversing on a social media platform. I resisted this notion for years but finally gave up because I needed to be able to communicate and understand my two digitally native children.

While I can now manage quite well in our new digital frontier, I marvel at how difficult it is for most American’s who don’t use a computer, have never had an email account, and only respond to the idea of online banking with fear. The reality is that most people are tricked into giving away their information versus having someone hack into your computer and steal it. Sadly, the government, the credit bureaus, our health and credit card providers have also failed to adequately protect our personal information through no fault of our own.

Back in 2011, Social Security stopped mailing out annual statements. I tremble at the idea of spending hours at a Social Security office. I have helped many clients set up their online account at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/ so they can avoid having to call or visit to access their Social Security statements or even order new cards.

Social Security is just one example of the many agencies, companies, and providers that expect everyone to serve themselves. For the generations above me, this is really a barrier that is just too difficult to navigate. They do have call-in options and my clients regularly complain of the HOURS they have spent on the phone waiting to talk to a person … and then the right person.

I get it, they save money but cutting out the personal service. But they have also dehumanized many of the ways we interact with our government, our health care providers, and even our retirement accounts. Sadly, most older American’s need more help and guidance and it’s interesting to me to see how the services industries are adapting by responding with more personal interactions than ever than before.

I have seen a new generation of financial advisers that are high touch and deliver deep resources as they watch how technology is isolating many of their clients who find operating in today’s world very foreign. Evolved?

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