Day 9: Ageism

Being one of the youngest in every group I’ve ever been in, professional, academic or fraternal, I feel really competent to comment on ageism, the effects and how I manage it.

See link to previous posts here

Ageism basically is the discrimination against people based on their ages. Usually, it’s used in respect to older people, who are discriminated in society due to their feebleness, etc. It’s the measure that comes in effect when employers restrict older people from applying for certain roles, and/or restrict them from promotion at certain times.

But ageism can also be about youth

Ageism can also be discrimination against young people, in terms of immaturity. Discrimination that prevents their voices from being heard, that negates their voting rights etc. In some climes, such as mine, this particular form of ageism is more common. Mostly because the demographic in power is usually old, and thus ageist discrimination tends to flow from that direction. That’s why the Nigerian government proposed a bill in 2011 that openly eliminates discrimination based on age when employing, but would never consider appointing a pre-30 year old into political office or even allow such contest a democratic election. In the US, the Age Discrimination Act protects people who are above 40 years. Does shit all for people who are below 40 years though.

18 year olds pay tax however.

Ageism was fostered by older people

In my opinion, older people created ageism. Older people, after decades of facing inabilities, internalising inefficiency and ageist discrimination, turn around to foster that same discrimination on the generations that follow. It is the classic, you should be punished, because I was, whippersnapper!

Another reason why Canada is my dream country; there’s no mandatory retirement age in Canada and even when below 17 years, you’re allowed to work provided you’re not needed at school. Once you’re 17, go work, employee.

Ageism could be intentional or unintentional. I myself realise I have often fallen to the temptation of unintentional ageism. I worry when I see older people alone, so certain they cannot cater to themselves. I snort when I see old men driving, certain they are terrible (why the hell do they drive so slow?). I expect older people not to be tech savvy or know the differences between Netflix and cable TV. It’s to be expected.

After years of being exposed to ageism in varying facets, it’s only expected that it rubs off.

So what do I do?

See people as people

I see people as people. It helps that movies (movies influence me, dammit!) have shown me people like Sylvester Stallone and Tom Cruise, run quarter miles at speeds I cannot even hope of, despite being decades and decades older than me. It also helps that in the groups I’ve worked or studied with, I’ve seen older people who exhibit same or higher levels of intelligence, commitment and vitality as I have. It helps me to see them simply as people. Fellow members of a unit, with flaws and strengths, whose abilities and disabilities stem from their own peculiarities and not as a simple result of their age. This is how I cope with ageism, this is how I push back on my own ageist tendencies.

Disclaimer

  • It’s shameful, and humbling to find I have discriminatory tendencies. Damn.
  • Movies really do influence me much.