Advancing global communication has been a mantra of the social media age, but with technology blitzing forward so rapidly, many older citizens are more alienated than ever. Cyber-Seniors, a touching documentary from Saffron Cassaday, follows a passion project created by her younger sisters, Macaulee and Kascha Cassaday, in which volunteer high-schoolers coach senior citizens on how to access the Internet.
It’s telling that one of the first lessons is how to turn a computer on and off. Navigating Facebook, the end goal for many of the cyber-seniors, feels lofty. Despite their own frequent misgivings, the seniors’ eagerness to learn — and their slow but steady progress toward online independence — is heartening to watch. Eventually, the seniors even compete in a YouTube video challenge, an event that demonstrates just how irrelevant the age gap can be. Shura, a lovely 88-year-old from the program, voices the frustration that multitudes have felt when receiving their first downvote: “How can someone dislike something so innocuous?”
Though touched with some real-life tragedy, the film is at its best in scenes of seniors interacting online with their families; their rapturous expressions illustrate the supreme comfort that communication can bring to people, even when the message is a simple hello. If there’s a film that will make you want to finally accept that friend request from your grandparents, this one is it.
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