June 14, 2022

In conversation with seniors in Geneva

Edgelands had the opportunity to engage with the senior community in Geneva to understand how the advent of digital technologies has impacted the social fabric of the city.

This image was taken during the workshop Edgelands held with seniors from Geneva. On the left, participants shared that their use of technological tools was generally low, using devices mostly for work and staying in contact with friends. On the right, participants noted feeling distrustful of cookies, e-banking, and algorithms for example. Note: the sticky notes at the top of the left photo represent the answers of Edgelands’ employees.

Photo by Klea Bogdani

On June 8th, 2022, Edgelands had the opportunity to engage with the senior community in Geneva. This conversation was crucial to our mission of understanding how the advent of digital technologies has impacted the social fabric of the city. One group that we heard many of our interviewees speak about as being particularly ‘vulnerable’ to the growth and infiltration of technology in our lives, was the senior community. But, before we published our diagnostic report, we felt it was crucial to speak to the seniors themselves. Our objective was to capture their thoughts on our reports main findings. Read below to see what they had to say!

The discussion fluctuated from personal and moving memories, to the challenges current technologies pose for them. Participants shared their personal experiences living in a post-World War II society - experiencing the Holocaust, the Algerian War, the 1973 Pinochet coup in Chile, and dealing with the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York City. The ongoing Ukraine-Russia reopened a painful wound for one of the participants in particular, and instilled a sense of terror in Geneva due to its geographical proximity. For the other participant, the securitisation of societies in response to potential terrorist attacks was particularly distressful.

Interestingly, the participants reported feeling less safe in Geneva today than they did in the 1960s and 70s. In fact, they shared:

Geneva has always been that safe, calm and little city. [But], it’s grown enormously - it has become a mess. Geneva is less safe today than it was 40 years ago”.

When asked about their thoughts on the intersection of digital technologies, surveillance and security - the crux of Edgelands’ work in Geneva - they expressed that they are acutely aware of the risks posed by, for instance, cookies and geo-tracking. Participants also shared that they feel safer paying their bills in person rather than online, paying with cash rather than credit, and withdrawing money with the help of a bank advisor physically nearby to avoid someone coming up behind them, and stealing their money. Phishing scams were reported as a worry since their demographic is the prime target.

For Edgelands, it was a pleasure listening to our participants’ life’s history intermingled with emotion and reflection. The discussion delivered and fulfilled its promises beyond our expectations: we were thrilled to have participated in a meaningful, enriching and intergenerational conversation.

This marked the second conversation of many that Edgelands will be having across different communities in Geneva. Next up, we have our Edgelands launch event on June 22nd, taking place at Maison Rousseau.

To learn more about of the events we will host that day, as well as to register, please click here:

Inter-City Panel on the Digitalization of Security

Youth Participatory Discussion on Digitalization of Security