Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Phyllis Zimbler Miller Says Seniors Get a Bum Rap on Technology

I Am Tired of Seniors Getting a Bum Rap About Technology
How many times have you read an article that insists that young people “get” social media and older people do not?  Or that it is amazing that an older person uses new technology?

If you are like me, you have had your fill of such articles.

To start with, just because young people have grown up with Facebook or other social media sites does not automatically translate into using these sites effectively for business purposes.

Using something for business purposes requires understanding business, which in turn means understanding – among other distinctions – the difference between selling and making connections.  Many young people “sell” on social media while many people of whatever age use social media to create relationships that may then lead to selling goods and services.

Second, older people learn new things all the time.  The assumption, for example, that utilizing Twitter effectively is beyond us is plain wrong.

And I am equally weary of older people telling me they are too old to learn new technological things.  This is a fear mentality mindset of not being good at the task and it can be overcome.

I know from personal experience that technology can be learned at an older age – if one is willing to be frustrated and then move ahead as one overcomes the obstacles.

For my 60th birthday I decided to self-publish my 20-year-in-the-writing women’s friendship novel MRS. LIEUTENANT, based on my own experiences almost 40 years before.  I said yes to this new publishing experience because POD (print on demand) had eliminated the need to stack hundreds of self-published books in one’s garage.

At the same time I entered MRS. LIEUTENANT in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition, and MRS.  LIEUTENANT was named a semifinalist.

Each semifinalist was given a page on Amazon, and this led to my discovering that one author had something called a blog.

Now while I was an early adopter of computers and email, I will admit in the spring of 2008 I did not know what a blog was.  But when I found out – it was like Alice falling through the rabbit hole.

I started out in my adult life as a newspaper journalist, and I knew what it was to wait for someone to say yes to something I had written.  Here was a free opportunity to write whatever I wanted without waiting for anyone’s okay.  And suddenly the ability to write well for purposes of information sharing had again become handy.

The more I learned, the more I wanted to know.  I took free and paid webinars, bought online courses, and threw myself into online relationship building.

At the same time my younger daughter, Yael K. Miller, was finishing an internship in the corporate communications department of a major Hollywood agency.  Instead of looking for a job, she agreed when I asked her to form an online marketing company with me.  I then introduced her to what I had been learning.

Now for the purposes of full disclosure, it is true that some things come easier to her than to me.  But then other things might come easier to me.  Thus the combination of two different age mindsets works well.

In the meantime, back to my book writing.  When I self-published MRS. LIEUTENANT, Kindle had just been introduced.  I found someone to convert the novel for Kindle almost as soon as the physical book was available on Amazon.

Five years ago not that many people had a Kindle reader, let along other electronic devices that run free Kindle apps.  But as ebooks have become more and more popular, I have expanded my book writing into nonfiction titles as well as more fiction titles.  And I have just encouraged Yael to publish her first Kindle ebook – the Middle Grade novel JACK STROM AND NEW ORLEANS HOODOO. 

Lo and behold, those old copyediting skills of mine honed going to the printer to okay a newspaper edition before it went to press have also become handy.

These days hand coding a Kindle ebook can ensure the best possible formatting.  But due to the addition of Kindle Fire, this type of coding has become quite complicated.

Yael did the research of what I needed to do, and now I use my old copyediting skills when I code my books.  I actually enjoy the coding – formatting my books exactly as I want them.  (I hand coded Yael’s book too.)

Before I did the coding myself, I accidentally lost control of one of my ebooks when a company I paid to do the coding uploaded my ebook to the company’s Kindle account instead of my own.  I immediately negotiated to get the rights back, recoded the book myself, and now completely control all my ebooks – see

And perhaps the best part of all this utilization of online technology is that I have made marvelous online friends throughout the world (as long as they speak English).  These are people with whom I share many common interests. 

In fact, I have created a triad of former military spouses who have written novels inspired by their experiences.  You can read a Digital Book Today article about our triad at

Phyllis with Hubby, Mitchell, Coronation
Ball, at Michigan St. Univ, 11/18/67, sponsored
by Cadet Officers Club & Arnold Air Society

Phyllis with hubby, Mitchell at USS Midway
aircraft carrier in San Diego, 2/1/07, after
US Naval Institute Conference

In conclusion, as spunky seniors we need to disabuse people of the notion that we cannot use new technology the way younger people can.  With our years of experience, we have a lot of valuable wisdom to share online – and we can do this via utilizing new technology!

Phyllis and her hubby twrote
Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders

Connect with me on Twitter at or visit my author website at to find my other social media info.  And let’s show the world that older people using online technology is not an anomaly – it is the norm!

Phyllis Zimbler Miller has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University and an M.B.A. in finance from The Wharton School.  Her fiction and nonfiction books include TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO PUBLISH AND MARKET YOUR BOOK IN THE AGE OF AMAZON and she is also the co-founder of

Please leave a comment to welcome Phyllis Zimbler Miller to
Spunky Senior Authors and Talents.


  1. Great post. I must admit to being caught somewhere in the middle between techno-idiot and "wow, I can't believe you know how to do that, Nana," but the good part is I learn what I want to and pass on what I don't.

    I love your pictures.

  2. Fascinating post. I'm 82, an author of romance/suspense with Vanilla Heart and like Liz, I struggle as a techno-dope. You're an inspiration, Phyllis. Once upon a time, I was Mrs.Lieutenant, vintage Korean War, Strategic Air Command. Thanks you.

  3. Welcome to Spunky Senior Authors and Talents, Phylis!
    That pic of you and your hubby at the Coronation Ball is so romantic!

    Morgan Mandel

  4. Phyllis I love you to death, you are such an inspiration!

  5. I'm not nearly as technically savvy as you are, but I keep learning new things. Thanks for the post. Very informative and inspirational.

  6. Hi, Phyllis,

    Like Helen, I'm not as tech savvy as you are, but I'm making an effort to keep learning new things. I do agree that many older people are intimidated by technology because they didn't grow up with it and don't see a need. I do see the need because I am a writer. Best wishes for the success of your novel!

  7. As always, interesting and helpful information. I love the way you bring your personal experience in.

    Good pictures of you and Mitchell!

  8. Phyllis has been unable to successfully post a comment here so she asked me to post this:

    Thank you, everyone, for such nice comments. I really appreciate it.

    And we all have to keep learning new things as technology constantly changes!


  9. Phyllis, I am just getting around to reading this post, as I "fell off the edge" while I took a trip last week. I love this post. I get tired of both things--people assuming that older people can't be tech-savvy, and those older people who try to prove they are right! It's true, we may take more time learning. But I've also found that I am much better at focusing on what I need to know rather than on diddling around with things that won't help me. I keep a list of things I don't know how to do and every now and then leap in and say, "Now's the time." Recently I decided I really had to bone up and Pinerest--only to find that my wonderful publicity team at Seventh Street Books had already started boards for me! From there it was easy.

    As Jerrye says, we have to keep learning new things as technology constantly changes. And I've even got a few ideas I wish someone would put into place--like a holographic keyboard. But that's for another post.

  10. I was a Luddite about computers from the time I was in college getting an English major in the late 70s, when they were still relatively "new", and there wasn't a PC in every house. I reluctantly learned to use the "house PC" as a typewriter when I ran my daughter's Girl Scout troop and had to produce memos for the meetings. Then when they got older, I would e-mail them to keep them updated. I took a "computers in the classroom" grad-level class to get recertified to teach so I could sub. Now I've been e-published by 4 different publishers for the past 4 years, with 13 books. It's been a tough learning curve, but my kids have helped a lot along the way. I remember when I was sweating bullets over creating a power point (I had never heard of it before) presentation that had to have at least 10 slides, along with movement, sounds, etc. My daughter was in 3rd grade at the time and came dancing into the house, eager to show me what she had done in computer class "just for fun", and when she showed it to me, I sobbed, "How did you do that?" She took pity on me, hugged me, then showed me how to do it. Sigh.


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