I feel out of the loop these days. I was visiting my friend last night and he has all the gadgets going, as do his partner and kids, even the young ones. They have their smartphones, ipads, laptops and blackberries. Sadly they all spend their time with their noses stuck in facebook which I find a bit antisocial. I do wish people would take the time to properly integrate technology with courtesy, but there you go.
Apparently even the kids these days need laptops for school. I suppose that's reasonable; can't expect them to keep using abacuses and slates. But of course today's schoolkids have all this stuff brought for them as a matter of course, and why not. I'm not technophobe, but I don't have any of this. I have nothing with an 'i' in front of it and my PC is years out of date. It couldn't even run the latest Windows, i shouldn't think (which of course I have no hope of affording).
When I was a kid the most advanced piece of kit was a cassette walkman that could play the tape on both sides without physically turning it over. Walkmans were fantastic. I even have a box of cassette albums in the loft I have absolutely no means of playing anymore. We never had the Internet, or even home computing. The most advanced PC was a Commodore 64 which I used to play games. Over the course of 20 years we have had a revolution in technology that's brought us smartphones, tablets and wifi. All of these are things people today learn to use and own as a matter of course. I don't even have a mobile phone - in fact the term mobile phone is anachronistic having been superseded by smartphones. I did have a mobile, but the cost of maintaining it coupled with the crap local reception rendered it useless. I could probably get a cheap handset and a pay as you go tariff, but it won't be any different.
All of this leaves me a man out of time, in a weird way. I feel like I should belong in a block of ice carved from a glacier, frozen in a long forgotten time. The problem is that as such I'm competing with kids for jobs and careers who have all the advantages of expertise in and ownership of modern technology. This gives them a huge advantage on top of my own lack of experience and age (compared to kids coming out of school i might as well be an old man). This is the raw edge of competition in the market, and we all know that the focus in the unemployment industry is largely on younger people; someone like me gets written off, or just 'parked', to use the parlance of the Work Programme.
What help is there? Are the Work Programme providers going to pay for me to own some of this stuff so I can access and learn modern software packages? Fuck no. They are happy to be paid on my behalf, even to refund travel expenses, which, over 2 years, could probably buy a laptop. They don't offer training or resources (except to turn up and use their own crappy pc's to 'jobsearch'). The end result is that people like me are consigned to the scrapheap, just to be pointed at and jeered by the likes of Cameron in his quest to make Britain a leader in the global marketplace. Or words to that effect; that's what he was saying in light of the reported so called fall in unemployment yesterday. Happily he and his vile crew are boasting of cutting people from the state and, apparently, creating private sector jobs (with of course fewer rights for workers and lower pensions, something the private sector already admits when they argue against public sector strikes), and 'competing'. That's the problem. We need to get rid of this ridiculous notion of competition, in my view; that's what puts people like me on the scrapheap with no hope of support.