Have you reached the grand age of…50? Or do you know someone who has experienced this milestone? Is the picture of the grey grandparent, above, an accurate depiction of yourself, or them?
We ask only because this month a British internet firm launched AskMabel, a brand new type of search engine that tailors results for – whisper it – “the older internet user”.
This audience is defined as audience of people born before 1963. Like 53-year-old Madonna. Or 58-year-old Pierce Brosnan. Helen Mirren, the poster girl for seniority, is 16 years into its target market.
Jon Wickham, the man behind the project, whose age is not known, said the search engine “uses all of our expertise gathered from years of working with internet users over 50 to help them find suitable answers to their search queries as quickly as possible.”
All those “years of working with internet users over 50” has brought us – or them, depending which side of 1963 you were born on – “Mabel” a spectacle-wearing cartoon super gran users are presumably more likely to identify with.
Arty Google doodles are replaced with AskMabel’s logo, shouting in large purple font, “The wise lady serving the best results to the more discerning, mature person as well as the young at heart!”
The search engine was launched, its press release announced somewhat ironically, in response to a “meteoric rise” in people over 50 using the internet to shop or book holidays. You know, like everybody else.
However, the usual search options of “video”, “maps” and “shopping” are replaced with “retirement”, “mobility”, “health” and “homecare”, accompanied by “large font and useful buttons like ‘clear search term’.”
AskMabel’s launch coincides with a Stylist investigation into growing old in Britain, and the country’s “collective phobia of ageing,” in this week’s magazine edition.
“Psychologically, we prefer to see the elderly as ‘other’ – with different attitudes, tastes and world views – and to admit that we have anything in common is to acknowledge that one day we will be like them,” Anna Hart wrote.
Only time will tell whether AskMabel succeeds as a search engine for the “other” internet users.