Here we are, you and I, teetering on a tightrope, gingerly making our way across the chasm to the new decade. Breathe easy. Tread firmly and trust in your balance pole. The bottom is a long way down.
We never had a great name for years 2000-2009. They are most commonly called the aughts, but if you start a conversation with “Back in the aughts …” around the dinner table, you’ll get at least a few puzzled looks. There is still no consensus on the years 2010-2019. The teens? The ’10s? I can’t imagine saying, “Ah, back in the ’10s, I remember when people still used Roombas and we had to program the darn things to snarf up the dirt! Not like now with these nanobrooms.” But we’re going to have to decide on a name and commit to its use. That’s just the nature of language. At a certain point, word must marry thing, or thing will vanish.
The name ’20s is OK to my ears, perhaps because the period after the Great War is still fresh in our cultural memory, evoking the Jazz Age, the Lost Generation, Prohibition and Black Tuesday. We still read some of those writers, talk about those painters, get those haircuts and debate those issues yet resolved, still haunting us.
But to say we’re entering the ’20s somehow just doesn’t sound right yet, perhaps because it’s too close to saying we are about to turn 20 years old.
For me, this is certainly not the case. These days, you can only think of decades as something in the historic past, not as something you experience now. It’s as though the only rivers that ever get names are the ones you’ll never swim in again. It hasn’t always been that way. I remember thinking about the ’80s as the ’80s, the ’90s as the ’90s. Then the digital world exploded and the twin towers collapsed, and we found ourselves somehow lost in time, with even our science fiction more retro than prophetic.
With the blurring of the present and the overabundance of information that came with the internet age, the neat little blocks of 10 we used to impose a pattern on the careening vicissitudes of history collapsed, leaving us with ones and zeroes.
Whatever lies ahead, it seems painfully likely that no one will call it roarin’. Still, to enter the ’20s without a celebration and commemoration seems unjust. Not everyone and everything was blessed to make it this far. Merrimack Valley Magazine, which began in the floating aughts and took hold in the tempestuous media environment of the ’10s now faces its biggest challenges. And possibilities. Hold on to your hat.
After all, a period of transition is not a time to rest and reflect. We need to begin again. There is work to be done.
Contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cyber criminals think older folks are easy prey. Follow these steps and prove ’em wrong.
In a previous article we focused on security issues kids face on the internet and how, in some ways, younger people can teach their elders a thing or two. Having grown up online, they are savvy in how the digital world works.
Senior citizens, on the other hand, can sometimes be uninformed or even naive in the world of the web — the concepts of coding, social networking and online commerce can present an unfamiliar and dumbfounding landscape.
Believing this, criminally motivated hackers regularly target seniors with phishing emails, ransomware, cryptojacking and a variety of other scams. Two examples:
In the Tuscon, Ariz., area, several seniors sent foreign scammers money after being duped into thinking they’d found romance online.
Another example: Arizona, a state with a large population of retirees, reported more than 8,300 cases of identity theft in 2017.
The good news is that there are simple steps seniors can take to protect themselves.
Sites for Seniors
One of my favorites is ConnectSafely.org, which has an article for seniors on how to choose the most secure passwords. Based on their guidance, and my own experience, here are a few tips:
• Use strong and unique passwords.
• Never share your passwords with anyone, unless you’ve designated someone you trust to manage your accounts.
• Make sure your passwords are long — at least 12 characters — and include numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and symbols.
Seniors should also understand and use privacy settings. Most services have settings that let you control who can see what you post.
CaregiverStress.com offers some useful advice, as well, including the following:
• Use the password-protection function on your smartphone.
• Take a deep breath before acting on urgent online requests.
• Be cautious about what you share online.
• Use security software. Credible vendors I recommend include Trend Micro, McAfee, Symantec and Sophos.
It’s also important to keep up on security news. To know what the bad guys are up to, I peruse the following sites each morning:
The Wall Street Journal, which has ramped up its cybersecurity coverage in recent months; Krebs on Security, the website of Brian Krebs, one of the finest security journalists in the industry; Dark Reading, a website that offers security-focused coverage 24/7; and Naked Security, a website maintained by Sophos. It is particularly good at simplifying complex threats in a way anyone can understand.
Bottom line: Awareness and education go a long way.
It’s also worth noting that online scruples are something anyone can attain, regardless of age. For all their early exposure to the internet, millennials have made plenty of mistakes, visiting a variety of questionable websites and sharing way too much on social media sites. To that end, younger people could learn some things from their elders.