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Don’t Mess With the Ancient Ones


Prehistoric- Photo by T

Wow! a Netflix Account

A few of years ago I was showing houses to a rather chatty twenty something.  She noticed the Netflix envelopes sitting in the back seat of my car waiting to be mailed. She commented on how cool it is that someone my age knows about Netflix.

A couple of years ago a very young local Realtor was all impressed because he sent me a text message and I responded quickly. He seemed to believe that only generation Y uses text messaging which makes me wonder why he chose that method of communication in the first place.  His message tripped the arrogance meter that resides somewhere in my subconscious.

Who are you calling old?

I smile when people who are the same age as my children think that technology belongs to their generation.  I think of the ancient ones.  I can call them ancient because they are over 80 years old. They sit in their townhouse on cold winter days on their Macintosh laptops and surf the net.   They can stay in touch with friends and family and explore the world without ever leaving their home.

He has had a blog since 2002, and kept suggesting that it might work for a Realtor as a way of marketing. I didn’t listen I was too busy doing open houses.  He got his first iPod a year before I did and kept telling me that I should be pod casting.  They got their first home computer in 1980.  It wasn’t much of a computer compared to what we have today but it helped them get started and one of them can probably still program the dang thing.

When we were you age . .

They follow me on twitter and get all parental with me if they see a naughty tweet.   They are on facebook along with their teen-aged grand children. They are talking about getting rid of their home phone because they can get by with just a cell phone and save a buck or two.  The best way to reach them most days is by email.

They are not as mobile as they used to be so they don’t need an iPhone.  Only one of them drives now so they order their groceries and just about everything else over the internet, and one of them walks to the farmers market or the corner store for the rest.

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They are a bit different from the younger people in that they have the disposable income to buy just about any tech toy they want. They have huge color monitors hooked up to their Macs and their desks are covered with a variety of colorful and expensive tech toys.

Watch what you say

Heaven help the youngster, and by youngster I mean anyone under fifty, who says anything about ancient ones being cute because they get technology. Heck in some ways their ability to live independently depends upon it. They exploit every tool they can find and they do it well.

When it comes to communicating with ancient ones I would never make the assumption that they don’t use email or surf the net. I would ask them how I can best serve them.

Written By

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.



  1. Erion Shehaj

    January 21, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Let me get this straight. You have a Netflix account?! 🙂

  2. teresa boardman

    January 21, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Yes I do and I have to say it is a waste. I look at three movies a month at the most.

  3. Erion Shehaj

    January 21, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I have to agree that Netflix is only a good value for hardcore movie renters – And I’m not one of them.

  4. Elaine Reese

    January 21, 2009 at 8:36 am

    As an “old fogie” myself, some of my highest tech clients are the over 50 crowd. My last under-30 client didn’t have a computer or email. Age has nothing to do with it!

  5. Kristal Kraft

    January 21, 2009 at 9:56 am

    It’s nice to know the ancient ones are alive and living a relevant life. Would you please thank them for inventing technology for us? I can’t imagine what I would do without it today. 🙂


  6. Shar Rundio

    January 21, 2009 at 11:01 am

    I’m a Redbox movie fan myself. I get the text each Monday for Free Movie Monday Otherwise it’s just a buck/night. There are about 10 within 3 miles of me.

    As far as the ancient ones go…my 92-year old grandmother-in-law lives across the street from us and when she needs assistance with her computer she just emails “Tech Support” aka my husband. She prints to our networked printer and we deliver. I keep encouraging her to start a blog. I’d love to see her stories captured that way!

  7. Vance Shutes

    January 21, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    It certainly helps to have teenagers at home still to keep up with the ever-changing means of communication among the “younger” set. Age is all relative, anyway. I’ve met “old” twenty-somethings (who act with the fear of the elderly) and “young” octogenarians (who act with the fearlessness and bragadocio of teens). It’s all in how you adapt to change, and it strikes me that most 2.0 Realtors are so adaptive to change that they will always be “young”. At least, we hope so!

  8. Suzanne Gantner

    January 21, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    This is so true…my 83 yr old Dad would be lost with out a computer and email. Funny also was when my son got a text message from me – he was quite impressed. I just laughed cause I text most of my clients. Good Post!!

  9. Karen Highland

    January 21, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I love this post! My kid’s adopted gradparents moved 1000 miles away, if they didn’t have Facebook and text messaging, they know that their relationships with my kids would have all but vanished. You are absolutely right, don’t underestimate the old folks!

  10. Karen Highland

    January 21, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Oh yeah, have you all tried We can watch 24 without being slaves to Monday night:)

  11. Matt Stigliano

    January 21, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Teresa – A texting ancient one? You mean they don’t write letters anymore? I’m shocked.

  12. Danilo Bogdanovic

    January 21, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    I was just thinking about this very topic, but with the roles reversed…

    I have been exposed to many instances, especially recently, where “ancient ones” have wrongly and rudely judged us “young’ins”.

    They’ve flexed their “years of experience” and “things have been done the way they’ve been done for years” muscles in my and fellow 30-ish year old faces.

    What I get from your post and the point I’m trying to make in my comment is that you should never judge a book by its cover nor assume.

  13. carole cohen

    January 21, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Of course you are right, T. The whole idea that technology belongs to the under 29 crowd is egocentric; which is what you’d expect from someone that age lol

    90 % of everyone I know is on line, regardless of their age. Same with clients.

    As a former teacher I enjoyed watching some of my younger colleagues discover Twitter and Facebook last month. They were gleeful; just like I was a year ago when I found it, old bag that I am lol.

    One thing could be true, and want to know what you all think; just as it’s easier for someone to learn a foreign language the younger they are, learning the initial basics of technology may be more of a snap for 15 year olds than even someone 29?

  14. teresa boardman

    January 21, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Danilo – yes it works both ways. We need to have respect for people of all ages, races and heck while we are at it lets throw in gender. I have to say in my own case I have surprised more than a few dudes with my tech knowledge.

  15. Dan Connolly

    January 21, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I was showing property about 20 years ago (when I was 37) and the Gloria Estefan song came on the car radio and my young buyers told me they couldn’t understand the lyrics. I said “she is saying come on baby shake your body do the samba you know you can’t control yourself any longer” One of them whispered to the other one “Wow an old man like that knows the words to that song”. It was a real wake up call for me. Old man at 37.

    What most 20 somethings don’t know is how time speeds up as you get older and that they will turn around one day (soon) and realize that they too are “old”. The funny part is that they won’t feel any different on the inside than they did when they were 16.

    I know some old school agents like to pretend that they are smarter and somehow better than their younger counterparts. But lots of younger agents think that they know more about technology or somehow have more going on than their older counterparts. Stupidity is multi generational.

  16. Brandie Young

    January 21, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Teresa, first, I have to say a BIG thank you. According to your definition – “a youngster is anyone under 50” I am a youngster! Yippee!

    PC’s in real estate really started becoming really mainstream 8 – 10 years prior to my dad retiring from being a broker. While not of “his generation’s tools” he certainly embraced the value and brought in a trainer to accelerate his learning. Is there an age when you’re just too old to learn something new, particularly when you want to learn? I don’t think so.

    8 years post retirement, he is pretty savvy and uses the internet and other online tools frequently.

    I’ve found the same “age-ism” in music. When the teen kids of my friends discover I like the same artist … “you’ve heard of them?” Sheesh.

    Then again, sometimes it’s fun to be underestimated!


  17. Missy Caulk

    January 22, 2009 at 6:48 am

    I had to explain to my 25 and 27 year olds at Christmas, what a widget is.

    The text ALL the time but just didn’t know what it was…

    Age is relative as far as knowledge. I have been taking classes at the Apple store. Shall we say gray headed and 60’s in all my classes.

  18. Linda Davis

    January 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    The Platinum Rule, as it pertains to real estate, is to treat your clients how they want to be treated. I think assuming someone wants to be treated (or communicated with) based on their generation is a ticket to failure. Your commentors said it very well.

  19. Paula Henry

    January 22, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Well, I just passed being a youngster. I was never really a techie and admire those who are hard core. I get by with help of both the youngsters and the “over the hill” group. Learning isn’t limited to age.

    We are never too old to learn something new – look how much those in our industry have had to learn in the last 5 years alone. It’s part of what makes this professioon exciting.

  20. Vicki Moore

    January 22, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    My 80-something year old client just bought her first computer ever – a laptop. I’m so impressed!

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