Joan MacDonald’s health was in shambles at age 71. She was overweight and on numerous medications with high cholesterol, rising blood pressure and kidney trouble.
Her daughter, a fitness coach, warned that she’d wind up an invalid if she didn’t turn things around. She did, hitting the gym for the first time and learning to balance her diet with the help of a brand new tool, an iPhone.
Now 75, MacDonald is a hype beast for health with a bodybuilder’s physique and 1.4 million loyal followers on Instagram.
She’s among a growing number of “grandfluencers,” folks 70 and up who have amassed substantial followings on social media with the help of decades-younger fans.
“It’s so rare to find someone her age being able to do all these things,” said one of her admirers, 18-year-old Marianne Zapata of Larchmont, New York. “It’s just such a positive thing to even think about.”
Both aspirational and inspirational, older influencers are turning their digital platforms into gold.
MacDonald has paid partnerships with the sportswear and supplement brand Women’s Best, and the stress-busting device Sensate. And she just launched her own health and fitness app not so many years after learning how to use digital technology herself.
On TikTok, four friends who go by @oldgays — the youngest is 65 — have 2.2 million followers, including Rihanna. They have an endorsement deal with Grindr as they delight fans with their clueless answers to pop culture questions.
Others focus on beauty and style, setting up Amazon closets with their go-to looks and putting on makeup tutorials live. Lagetta Wayne, at 78, has teens asking her to be their grandmother as she tends to her vegetables and cooks them up in Suisun City, California, as @msgrandmasgarden on TikTok.
Wayne, with 130,500 followers amassed since joining in June 2020, owes her social media success to a teenage granddaughter. Her very first video, a garden tour, clocked 37,600 likes.
“One day my garden was very pretty and I got all excited about that and I asked her if she would take some pictures of me,” Wayne recalled. “She said she was going to put me on TikTok and I said, well, what is TikTok? I had never heard of it.”
Most people ages 50 and up use technology to stay connected to friends and family, according to a 2019 survey by AARP. But less than half use social media daily for that purpose, relying on Facebook above other platforms.
Just 37% of those 70 and older used social media daily in 2019, the research showed. Since coronavirus struck, older creators have expanded their horizons beyond mainstay Facebook and gotten more voracious, often driven by the growing number of feeds by people their own age, said Alison Bryant, senior vice president for AARP.
In the California desert town of Cathedral City, Jessay Martin is the second youngest of the Old Gays at 68.
“I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life relaxing pretty much, and I do, but this is picking up more for us. I had a very structured week where Monday I worked the food bank at the senior center, Tuesday and Friday I did yoga for an hour and a half, Wednesday I was on the front desk at the senior center. I was just sort of floating by, not being social, not putting myself out there in the gay community. And boy, has the Old Gays changed that,” Martin said.
Like MacDonald, they do a lot of myth busting about what’s possible in life’s sixth, seventh and eighth decades.
“They’re showing that anybody can do these things, that you don’t have to be afraid of aging. The 20 and 30 somethings don’t often think about that,” Bryant said. “The authenticity that we’re seeing in some of these older influencers is really refreshing. That’s part of the complexity of their narratives. They’re bringing other parts of their lives to it. They’re grandparents and great-grandparents and spouses. They’re more comfortable in their own skins.”
Sandra Sallin, a blogger and artist, has slowly built her following to 25,300 on Instagram. Her reach recently extended to the British Olympic gold-medal diver Tom Daley, who raved about her mother’s cheesecake recipe after his coach spotted it online and made it for her athletes and staff. Sallin, a lover of lipstick who focuses on cooking and beauty, also shares photos from her past and other adventures, like her turn last year in a vintage Spitfire high above the Cliffs of Dover.
“I wanted to expand my world. I felt that I was older, that my world was shrinking. People were moving, people were ill,” Sallin said. “So I started my blog because I wanted to reach out. After that, I heard about this thing called Instagram. It was really hard learning it. I really stumbled my way in. I’m shocked because most people who follow me are 30 and 40 years younger. But there are people who are older, who have kind of given up and say, ‘You know, I’m going to start wearing lipstick.'”
Toby Bloomberg, 69, in Atlanta is a Sallin supporter. She discovered Sallin after Sallin competed on the short-lived Food Network show “Clash of the Grandmas.”
“She talks a lot about aging. That’s quite an unusual phenomenon on social media, which is obviously dominated by people far younger than we are,” Bloomberg said.
MacDonald said she was surprised at the beginning that people actually cared what she had to say.
“Why would people want to follow an old broad,” she giggled from her home in Ontario, Canada. “My daughter, Michelle, cleared that up. She said it’s what you’re representing, that people can do what they think they’ve not been able to do or were told that they couldn’t do.”
Grace Maier, 32, is home full time with her two kids, ages 6 months and 2. She follows Barbara Costello, a 72-year-old Connecticut grandmother who uses the handle @brunchwithbabs.
“She does these posts, ‘Did your mom ever tell you?’ and I followed her immediately on Instagram,” Maier said. “Her content brings me joy! She’s got all of these life hacks and tips that remind me of things my grandma shared with me before she passed. She also doesn’t take herself too seriously and just seems like the kind of person who would welcome you into her home.”
Mae Karwowski, founder and CEO of the influencer marketing agency Obviously, has more than 100 influencers in her network between the ages of 60 and 80. With more than a billion users on Instagram alone, she points to the successes on that platform of 93-year-old Helen Ruth Elam (baddiewinkle), 67-year-old Lyn Slater (iconaccidental) and 100-year-old style legend Iris Apfel.
There’s another aspect to the reach of seniors: Grandparents and grandchildren who have teamed up to share their adventures together, from traveling the world to Nerf gun battles.
“Mainstream media, I would say, presents a really narrow viewpoint on this age group. What’s great about social media is you can follow a really cool 75-year-old woman who is just doing her thing in Florida and that’s fun. That’s different. And she’s funny,” Karwowski said. “The 21-year-old fashion model influencer is managed. She has a team. She has designers falling all over themselves to give her everything. She has professional photographers. A lot of these 70-plus influencers are doing it all.”
Candace Cima, 74, taught herself to shoot and edit video for Instagram by watching YouTube tutorials. She hopped on the platform in February 2019 as a fresh voice on fashion and style while encouraging her audience not to be afraid of aging. Her husband sometimes helps out with photos for @styleinyour70s.withleslieb (Leslie is her middle name).
“I’m still in that learning curve, I have to be honest. Two and a half years ago, I didn’t even know what an influencer was,” said Cima, in Ithaca, New York. “I’ve always had a lot of ideas about aging. I don’t understand why aging has such a negative connotation.”
With 37,900 followers, some of her youngest fans have shared with her why they care: “They don’t want to age the way they saw their relatives aging,” Cima said. “They feel like they can learn something.”
F NEW YORK (AP)
Remote work is becoming the new norm, should tech industries be worried?
Back in 1822, Charles Lamb, British poet and essayist wrote in a letter to poet William Worsworth “You don’t know how wearisome it is to breathe the air of four pent walls without relief, day after day,” describing the agony he faces while working in the East India Company’s office located in the heart of London’s Leadenhall Street.
It’s safe to say Lamb would’ve enjoyed the COVID-19 pandemic that pushed workers into a work-from-home routine, liberated from what he coined as “official confinement.” Yet, this may not be the case any longer.
A new survey of 2,000 UK tech workers and employers by Hackajob’s marketplace researchers resulted in shocking findings.
Half of the employers who participated in the survey noted that it is extremely difficult to grow and enhance a strong team while working remotely, and 54 percent of the participants said having a distributed workforce caused a negative toil on the office culture.
However, tech professionals have a different perspective on the matter. Hackajob’s researchers found that only 22 percent of tech workers agreed that remote working has a negative impact, while 44 percent noted that there isn’t much of a difference.
The different findings mean one thing: businesses are increasingly facing challenges when trying to please their workers and ensure a productive workforce with the shift in job expectations.
Hackajob noted that 72 percent of the tech workers surveyed cited remote working as the main element they look for during a job hunt, while 67 percent said that they’re looking for different opportunities that don’t require remote work.
Co-founder and CEO of Hackajob, Mark Chaffey, made it clear that the increase in demand for tech workers might force businesses to reformulate their work culture, even though expectations of employers and employees “are not aligned at the moment.”
“Tech workers are in demand and our data shows it is a buyer’s market now, so employees seem to be in the driver’s seat,” Chaffey added.
For example, Microsoft recently warned that remote work can possibly have a harmful impact on workplace communication and productivity as it turns out that the tech giant’s own U.S. workforce was struggling with communicating back in March of last year when employees were forced to work remotely for the first time.
Yet, other tech giants are maneuvering their way around remote work in a different manner. Google has given its U.S. staff the option to work remotely at the expense of salary deductions.
In Hackajob’s survey, 53 percent of tech workers stated that they wouldn’t consider cutting their salaries to work remotely, in comparison to only 27 percent of participants who were okay with having potential salary adjustments.
“It will be interesting to see what shifts first and what shifts furthest, workers’ expectations about remote working or employers’ demands about being in the office,” Chaffey said.
Your favorite retail giant is pushing for weed legalization in the U.S.
Back in June, Amazon announced that it will not screen employees for cannabis use. Fast forward to the present moment, and the retail giant is kicking it up a notch by calling on the U.S. government to fully legalize marijuana.
In a post on the company’s blog, Beth Galetti, Amazon’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources, wrote: “We strongly believe the time has come to reform the nation’s cannabis policy, and we are committed to helping lead the effort.”
“Today’s status quo is unfair and untenable,” added Galetti, who explained that it’s extremely difficult for firms to work around cannabis rules due to the blurriness between federal law and local measures.
Amazon’s move comes after a number of states began expanding weed legalization, with “36 states allowing some level of public access to cannabis and 18 states plus Washington, DC, legalizing recreational adult use,” according to Gizmodo.
The news might work for Amazon’s favor, as the majority of Americans approve of a similar policy in their state, as seen by a CBS News poll conducted earlier this year.
More specifically, the retail giant is lobbying for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021, a house bill that aims to halt any kind of federal ban on the use of marijuana. The e-commerce firm has also publicized its support for the recently created Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, a homogenous bill put forward by the Senate.
“Pre-employment marijuana testing disproportionately impacts people of color and acts as a barrier to employment,” Galetti wrote. “We’ve found that eliminating pre-employment testing for cannabis allows us to expand our applicant pool.”
Over 250 warehouses, packaging stores, hubs and delivery centers in the U.S have been opened by Amazon so far this year, with more than 100 buildings expected to open by the end of September, according to the company. The e-commerce gorilla has welcomed over 450,000 people in the U.S. to work for them since COVID-19 began taking over. Currently, 750,000 Amazon employees are working on an hourly basis across the U.S.
Australia’s tech industry is falling behind, report finds
As the world’s top technologically driven nations continue to transform innovative concepts into a reality, Australia risks falling behind without an interest to invest in digital technology-based research, IT professionals, and workers.
That is according to a new report published by the Australian Academy of Science in collaboration with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, which acted as a much-needed wake up call to the federal government to take a stand when it comes to ensuring digital technologies and innovation are a priority to the country.
The non-profit organization warned the government that Australia’s tech industry is edging closer to lagging behind global countries, noting that countries like Canada, France, the UK, and the U.S. have invested hefty resources into placing digital technologies as their main priority, a strategy that increased competitiveness and innovation.
“Australia’s digital innovation earnings relative to its GDP was almost four percentage points lower than the OECD average of 11.2 percent,” the organization explained.
To target the issue, the organization recommended a number of measures to be taken that can help elevate Australia’s tech industry in order to stay up to date with other nations.
For starters, the tech sector must be recognized by the Australian government as an independent growth sector, according to the report.
The organization also highlights how research and innovation in new digital technologies should be part of the federal government’s 2021 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap.
Utilizing artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and 5G are just some of the innovations the report dives into, suggesting examples of how these new tech innovations can benefit the country as seen by other nations who have prioritized research in the tech field.
Shazia Sadiq, Chair of the Australian Academy of Science’s national committee for information and communication told InnovationAus in an interview that while the Australian Government’s investment in digital tech – such as building a digital economy and creating advanced manufacturing strategies – was a good step to take, much more needs to be implemented.
“Our key message is that we need to be more than ‘smart users’ of emerging technologies,” Sadiq told InnovationAus.
Yet, what does that entail?
“It means that we need to have the scientific expertise, our sovereign capability, through which we can help and create and foster those opportunities that come from these emerging digital technologies, but also help with the vulnerabilities and limitations and dangers and do it at a national level,” she added.
Sadiq explained that the country needs to be able to ensure that the scientific experts in the science and engineering field should work in collaboration with technology professionals.
“The thinking is that these digital technologies have a very wide footprint that impacts almost all sectors,” Sadiq said.
Chris Connell, the managing director of the UK-based Kaspersky APAC, the world’s largest privately held vendor of endpoint protection solutions, is pushing forward security awareness and digital education as a method to help the Australian government achieve tech savviness among its public.
“We’re facing security challenges that put a strain on cybersecurity resources. Investing in cyber talent and promoting security awareness and digital education are the keys to success in building cyber resilient digital societies and economies,” Connell said.
“We need to move from the ‘needs’ to actually delivering on this, if we don’t, and the way the world is changing, there will be more and more risk moving forward.”
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