The Queen says the world is changing too fast. But wasn't it ever thus?

Anyone who has had to ask a five-year-old how to program the video, or stared in horror at a computer screen, will empathise. But was the Queen right when she said society was moving too fast for "older people"? Jojo Moyes hears that her grandmother was probably saying the same thing.

The Queen's admission yesterday that even she felt bewildered by the rapid rate of technological change brought a clamour of agreement from those still stuck on the hard shoulder of the information superhighway.

In a speech to Pakistan's Parliament, the Queen, 71, said: "I sometimes sense that the world is changing almost too fast for its inhabitants, at least for us older ones."

The veteran writer and broadcaster Ludovic Kennedy, 77, was among those who agreed. "What she has said is absolutely right. For old dogs like us, new tricks are simply unacceptable," he said. "The world is changing so fast we just can't keep pace with it ... I can't even cope with a word processor, never mind the Internet. Everything is getting more and more complicated."

According to the Age Concern spokesman Margaret McLellan, many elderly people felt the same way. "Feeling too old to catch up with the modern world can begin when people are as early as 40 or 50, and it is a feeling which gets worse as people get older," she said "But there should be a choice - some people see new developments as a challenge and try very hard to bridge the age gap."

According to Dr Jon Turney, lecturer in science communication at University College London, much of the disquiet felt by the elderly today has to do with the biotechnological changes that have sped through since the 1980s. "I suspect the feeling is keener and more affecting now than it has been in the past. If you went back 100 years there was disquiet about changing belief systems, fallout from the discovery of deep time and Darwinian theory. But science and technology were seen as the arbiters of progress. Everyone was optimistic," Dr Turney said.

"Now the changes come so thick and fast that people are as much bewildered as anything. There is a sense that there is more science, more technology rushing along doing threatening things. Developments in bio-sciences are seen as as much of a threat as a promise. Traditional categories get broken down ... and there is the question of what reproductive technology is doing to the family. People find this very disquieting."

But according to William Brock, Professor of the History of Science at Leicester University, one could have heard the same sounds of disquiet 150 years ago - when people adapted to the advent of "high speed" railways, and subsequently electricity, and telephones and their lives changed beyond recognition.

"There were huge changes taking place to people's lives. With railways [in the 1840s] you had speed for the first time, and people were generally frightened of it," Professor Brock said. "Many talked about the new technology with some dismay.""

But not all older people are pessimistic about their position in the Brave New World. The former TV campaigner Mary Whitehouse, 87, said the elderly should not just give up. "All it takes is a bit of teamwork between the young and the old," she said.

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London