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Aging in Cyberspace

March 10, 2011

The internet has offered aging women an opportunity to step out of their solitude and find friendship and advice from fellow life travelers.  It’s a new world.

Art by Annette van der Spuy

Just a generation or two ago, women aged in the comfort of their own home with children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters within arm’s reach. This, of course, is something of a fantasy because in truth these aging women were still undoubtedly the primary caregivers and didn’t sit knitting in a rocking chair quite as often as we imagine. I wonder, though, if they feared the aging process as much as we do.  Losing a child, a sibling, or a friend to an early death was a common occurrence then. Our ancestors lived with death on their doorstep.

I doubt there were as many mirrors as there are now either, both the reflective kind and the kind we pass by in magazines and on TV that cause us to be self-conscious about the outward appearance of our aging.   We feel exposed.  We cannot hide our wrinkled skin, our graying her, our sagging breasts. We struggle to feel comfortable in our own skin, so unfamiliar, so foreign, so alien to what we’ve spent our lives striving to obtain.

Interacting with other women through the vehicle of the internet has had a profound effect on our sense of power in the face of aging. Women over fifty across the world are bonding, sharing, talking, exploring what it means to age in today’s world. We are re-defining the process for ourselves. I see great progress being made in our acceptance of ourselves and each other. We revere the woman who ages well, who exudes wisdom and confidence, who takes care of herself as much on the inside as the out. I wonder how much this translates from the activities in cyberspace to day-to-day living.  I do know, it has made a difference to me.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2011 4:12 pm

    Dorothy –

    You’ve shared something very near and dear to my heart these days and that is the journey of aging. How do we do it gracefully & with wisdom?

    Sometimes I still feel I am a child, reliving insecurities & self-consciousness. Sometimes I feel very old (I am 58). I didn’t learn to use a computer until 1999 when I went through a divorce. I was scared to death and yet did not understand why I must learn this new device. Why wasn’t a Selectric typewriter good enough any longer? Or how about writing letters? Oy vey! That seems to be a thing of the past now.

    Once I learned how to email, I was off and running and have never looked back! The internet has introduced me to many new online friends ~ ones who are introspect on the aging process and are helping me limp along, and those who are very artsy ones whom I’ve met through my selling experience on Etsy. All of these women have become important to me and are helping me along life’s journey and I thank them.

    I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for sharing your wisdom
    through your blog. I am learning so much from your posts, and taking time to reflect on my own feelings as you share yours. Have a blessed day!

    • March 10, 2011 5:00 pm

      Thank you Diane! I always look forward to reading your comments. I think we might just be kindred spirits! Speaking of writing letters, it’s a lost art. My mother wrote letters daily until the day she died at 97. She kept up with friends all over the world, some that dated back to her elementary school days. I have many of the letters she wrote to me after I left home and every now and then I pull one out and read it. My brother has our family letters dating back to pre-Civil War. What will be this generation’s legacy? My children will not have hand written letters from me. I’ve written a few but I doubt they’d keep them (they are boys!:)). I think this a topic for another blog! You are an inspiration!

      • March 10, 2011 5:37 pm

        Thank you for your kind words, Dorothy. What treasures you have in those letters! Wow! I have a few letters in my parents’ treasures – in particular, a few from my dad to my mom during WWII when he was serving in the Philippines.

        Like you, I too have boys who would probably not keep letters had I written them. However, I am blessed with one daughter-in-law who treasures sentimental family items and I’m sure she will pass whatever I leave of those to my two granddaughters for future posterity.

        I hope you also have granddaughters. They really seem to be more family-oriented than boys. ^_^

      • March 10, 2011 5:52 pm

        I can’t wait for granddaughters and I’m praying for nice daughter-in-laws ~ things are a little iffy at the moment!

  2. March 10, 2011 6:01 pm

    Just curious, how do you define “aging women”? I am almost 69, I hope you don’t put me into that category. Who was it that described old as being 20 years old than them.

    • March 10, 2011 6:14 pm

      I do not define “aging women” in any particular way as we are aging from the day we are born. Aging is a process not a state of being. As you point out we each feel differently about it. The implication in what you say is that there is something inherently wrong with aging, that we have to deny we are involved in the process. My hope is that in conversing about our humanity and acknowledge that death awaits each of us, that we will discover that the process of aging beyond youth, beyond, young adulthood, beyond midlife has much to teach us about ourselves and the meaning of our lives.

  3. March 17, 2011 5:52 am

    If your readers lived in a retirement hotel as I do, they would have a different perspective on aging. While there are people here who are not quite up to snuff, there are also men and women who walk briskly, see perfectly and have energy to spare. I am not among them unfortunately although I was when I moved in nearly two years ago. Your blog addresses important issues and, as you state, we are all aging. Hopefully mostly in place. I recently lost my best friend who was also my first cousin. She was considerably younger and left us quick enough to make us disbelieve that she is gone. However, it proves one thing: We are alive and that is when we must really LIVE. After that who knows. Thanks Dorothy.

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