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Sheila Stoll: I may be old, but I'm no easy mark

I don't tweet. I'm not on Facebook. My old face doesn't need the exposure. It seems only a few months since I was dragged kicking and screaming onto the Information Super Highway . . . as potential roadkill. My, how time flies when you're a tweetless cyber-ninnie.

I have mixed feelings about being old. On the one hand, I'm lucky to have lived long enough to get old. On the other is the discovery that we codgers seem to have "Easy Prey" stamped on our foreheads. I cannot tell you how many people with a bucket of tarrish stuff dragging behind their pickup trucks will be in my neighborhood next week and how happy they would be to resurface my driveway. They are undeterred by my obvious lack of a driveway. Others think I'm a good candidate for a reverse mortgage and will happily provide me with all the cash I might need. Banks would like to sell me a high-interest platinum credit card, but have little interest in providing me with an ordinary one.

Insurance companies to whom I have paid premiums for years will gamble that, if they turn down my claim I won't live long enough or be able to afford to fight their decision in court.

When I was young I was taught to respect my elders. I gave up my seat on the bus to a tired old lady. I didn't interrupt my grandfather when he was telling a story for the 43rd time. If I was roller skating on the sidewalk and saw an old person approaching with a cane, I got out of the way until the oldster passed. Now, kids on skateboards or roller blades have no problem heading straight for me, swerving at the last minute, nearly knocking me down. I get honked at in parking lots if I back out of my slot slowly, cautiously. Will their honking impatience make me a safer driver? Apparently it's easier to hit the horn than hit the brakes.

How old do you have to be before someone describes you as "spry"? I, personally, know of no "spry" youngsters. Why do young crooks think I'm a pushover for any snake oil salesman or exciting new pyramid scheme? If I put all my information out there on the Web, I am automatically a target for personalized sales. Knowing my interests, they can pitch directly to me. Knowing my age, they can bombard me with health-related stuff, places to live out my Golden Years, services that will shop for me, tidy up my house, provide easy transportation, help me with estate planning, a host of unwanted solicitations. Surely I must want to "friend" hosts of people who have my best interests at heart. NOT!

Then comes word that, if I haven't picked up the new, improved swine flu virus, I probably have some electronic virus that will cripple me electronically and provide a new identity to some enterprising cyber-thief who can cleverly buy a new plasma TV at my expense.

I'm crotchety. (That's another word that is never applied to youngsters.) I do not gladly suffer people I don't know calling me "dear." I have a perfectly good name. And if someone I don't know decides to call me by my first name, I feel free to address him by his. Why should I dignify him with "Doctor"?

When I was only able to write letters with a typewriter, put them in an envelope and mail them, my children complained. Why didn't I have e-mail? Now I do, and I get cryptic messages instructing me to go to a blog for details. If I would only Twitter, it would be so much easier to communicate with me. Without Flickr, how can I see pictures of my darling grandchildren? It's all on the blog anyway, I can see them there. What? No cell phone? How can I live?

Why would I want to be in instant communication with half the known world? Besides, it's already too easy for me to lose one of the accursed TV remotes in the house. If I carry all these devices around everywhere, something will get lost and I'll be staring straight at victimhood again. The more people who have access to me and my every move, the more potential there is for some entrepreneurial crook to find a way to use that information to harm me. Paranoid? You bet!

It is true that we Golden Agers are expensive for society. We live longer than we're supposed to. We're in the way. We're also the largest pool of potential victims. Where would scam artists be without us? Remember Tweety Bird? He knew a predator when he saw one. "I taught I taw a Puddy Tat!" Me too. So I don't tweet.

Write to Sheila Stoll in care of LifeTimes, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

Sheila Stoll: I may be old, but I'm no easy mark 06/22/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 22, 2009 12:49pm]

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