The specter of ageism is everywhere. Technology has widened the gap between young and old. As a result, ageism has become more widespread than ever before.
The cold hard truth
The cold hard truth is that ageism exists. We see it in professional, social and family circles.
Some good news
I recently reflected on ageism and have some thoughts:
In general, as we get older we become more of this:
- Averse to change
- Averse to risk
And we become less of this:
- Forward thinking
- Open minded
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Contrariwise, up-and-coming young people are ambitious risk takers who want to be masters of their own fate and influence change (just like we did).
The older we get, the more we expect things to be done “our” way. But, more often than not “our” way of doing things is perceived by young people as obstruction.
For instance, if you’ve ever caught yourself telling a young person something like “that’s not the way we do things” or “you can’t do it that way because we already do it this way” then you can imagine how a young person might process this kind of thinking: older folks are just in the way.
Young people don’t want to deal with burdensome, old-timey non-wisdom like “you have to wait your turn” or “if you work hard good things will happen for you.”
Technology has all but wiped out the need for any of us to wait for anything. And all of the things we old timers think young people should be doing? Well… they don’t do those things anymore.
How can we eliminate ageism?
We can work hard to understand that young people deeply want to start making moves toward their own future goals, right now.
We can work hard to empower young people to challenge traditions, break things and learn from mistakes. Just like we did.
If we want ageism to go away, we need to make aging less about us (the people who are already older) and more about them (people who are also getting older, but are still younger than us).
We shouldn’t become more selfish as we get older. We should strive to be more selfless.
But we exist within systems that don’t outwardly reward selflessness, yet very much do reward selfishness. We should all want to change that.
We should all want to change what it means to be an older person in today’s global society. It’s not always on us to be the leader or the “adult in the room.” We can lead when it’s time to lead and follow when it’s time to follow. We should trust young people to drive, so to speak.
In the end, us older folks should want to join young people, on their terms, and do everything we can to help them build a brighter future for all of us.
With some effort, I believe that ageism is a solvable problem. I also believe that my generation is uniquely qualified to take it on. In fact, we might be the only generation who can.
*For context, I’m 41 years old at the time of this writing.
Andrew Mitchell – Founder & CEO at Yardaroo
We can’t reverse aging. But we can reverse ageism!
Pro tip #1 – Stop saying things like “me and tech don’t get along.” If you’re not comfortable with technology, put in some effort and learn. Don’t be a luddite.
Pro tip #2 – Pick up a controller and learn to play a video game or two! Make it fun! Don’t forget the power of retro gaming, too!
Pro tip #3 – Let young people lead. Let them challenge tradition. Let them break things and learn. Just like we did.
Are you a “non-technical” person and want to get better? Here are some resources to get your journey started: