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Ageism The Racism Of Age

Updated on September 11, 2010


What is ageism? Who does it affect? And why do we do it? All very good questions, which I will attempt to answer for you in this article. First though what is the purpose of this article, why did I write it. Well the answer is simple I am a victim of it. It caused anger to burn in my heart and I am putting it to constructive use to explain this very thing and its follies to people who are willing to listen. That is how this article came to be and I hope that you will walk away from it with a different perspective or at least be better informed from it.

                First question to tackle is the what, what is ageism? Ageism is a type of prejudice that is shown toward people of ether younger or older age. Typically it is in the form of looking down on this person for being to young or being old. For instants if say an 80 year old man said something intelligent but another person did not like what was said that person would say that the old man must be going senile even though the thing that was uttered was quite pointful and intelligent. This would in turn take away from the point that was made by the old man. Typically people will ether laugh or be in agreement with the senile comment that the wrong individual made. Another example would be say someone 20 years old said something pointful and the person was called naïve or too young to understand. Again others will be in agreement with the too young or naïve comment and will look down upon the younger individual. The younger form is more typical than the older form but both are none the less wrong to do.

                Ageism is much like racism or sexism in nature. Typically it ether involves preconceived notions or discrimination based on age itself. Ageism is just as equally disruptive to society as sexism and racism if not worse. It has its victims and they do not like being looked down at because of their age. Much like race or sex people can choose their age and yet people will look down on them or their idea because of the age of the person.

                Second question pondered is why do we do it? Well there are a variety of reasons. A) Societory view. B) The person using it is wrong and is using anything to take away from valid points. C) Upbringing. D) Ext. There are so many reasons why we do this that the list could go on and on.

                A more valid question though is why do we let this happen. Well that too has a variety of reasons which normally relate to the same reasons the person is using it. Though in addition to those stated in the last paragraph, another reason that should be considered is fear. We are all aging and will all die. Some could just be afraid of the fact that a new more youthful generation is coming with bright ideas that could change the future. It is sad to think that we are being replaced but in time we will be and that is probably one of the key reasons behind ageism.

                Another key reason and the biggest is arrogance. Not biggest because it the more common reason but because typically arrogance is large. People who are arrogant because they think they are better because they are older than the person they are talking down to. Or in the case of older ageism it is because they think they know everything. (for the record I do not think I know everything and I hope that day never comes that I do as I love learning new things) People think that because they are older that they inherently know better and more than the younger generation. They will even use the persons age as a reason against the stated theory or idea.

                That brings us to a valid point I would like to make. An idea should be looked at as an idea and not as hold old is the person who said it. In all honesty how does someone being young deter against the idea itself. If the idea is foolish in nature then it can be chalked up to the persons inexperience in life as to the naivety but what if the idea is totally valid. Should the persons age still be taken into consideration? How would you tell the persons age if an older person took the younger persons idea and worded it? You wouldn’t. If you just see the blind idea then you are forced to judge it on its own merits and not the merits of who said it. Here is a hypothetical situation for you to ponder. Your house is on fire and you don’t know it. A 15 year old runs into your room and says to you that your house is on fire and that if you do not get out now that you will die as the fire will soon consume the whole house. Now you wouldn’t ignore what the 15 year old is saying even if you can’t see the fire or any sign of the fire. You wouldn’t say well your just 15 what do you know or your too naïve about fire, with a bit more life experience like myself you would know better. No you would get the hell out of the house as fast as you could. So now, how does that differ from any other point in time when a 15 year old says something (I am not 15 years old this is just a reference), yeah the idea itself maybe bad but we can examine why it is bad after we decide whether it is in fact a bad idea or uneducated statement.

                 Now who does this effect and who does this hurt? well the answer may surprise you Everyone. How is this, you may be wondering? Well let me explain. First the most hurt is the person who is discriminated against. No one likes to be discriminated against just because they are black or white, Jewish or Muslim and no one likes being discriminated against because they are young or old. This leaves a deep hurt feeling on the people that suffer under ageism just like it does people who suffer under sexism and racism.

                It also hurts everyone else as well. There are people in their late teens early 20s who may in fact have a great idea that could benefited the community but are turned away or no one listens to them as they believe they are too young to know what they are saying. Thus the good idea never happens and the bad stays. This hurts everyone in the community and potentially the world because of ageism. The same can be said for a black person having a great idea or a female having a great idea back in the 1930s. Do we really want to wait till later and look back and go ah man if only we would have listen to that person then we wouldn’t be having this problem now.

                As you can see Ageism is a very real problem facing our modern society. Yet here is some food for thought, we have technically progressed backward as in medieval times someone in their early teens were considered adults and even in some cases heads of their households. They were expected to be mature and pointful and were brought up to be ready for life by that age. Now today we won’t take someone serious because they are 18 or 19 or even 20. Yet we will talk about in specials on the news how this person at that age is a millionaire as they did this and that and how smart that person is only because they have money. Truth be told we are become to fixated on age. While some things said will be naïve is that really a bad thing in some cases. Yes racism will never be truly defeated but if we do not put a foot forward will we not progress. Yes not everyone can be trusted but if we don’t trust someone will we not cease to function as a society. In conclusion ageism needs to stop, it is no better than racism or sexism. It hurts people just like the others and ultimately is just as wrong.


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    • Happyontheinside profile image

      Katrionawrites 8 years ago from Scotland

      Good hub, ageism does tend to be the overlooked 'ism' and the first step of curing it is spreading awareness. Nice fire analogy - made me laugh :)