Confessions of a 40-Something (1)
Getting older can be a great comfort. This article, however, is not about those, the comforts per se. Confession. This article is about the confession of faux pas in etiquette. Over the years there are some things that we as people tend to allow--things I have allowed--and behaviors we exhibit because we could get away with them. Whether it is by age, gender, or ethnicity, there are social norms that allow us a pass (a get out of jail free card) in many everyday situations. This is the first in a number of articles that I write about confession in the wake of life.
Discovering that I have the natural gift of looking and sounding younger than what I am by about 15 years or so, I have positioned myself in situations that give me temporary access to some social experience I otherwise may avoid. This blessing has allowed me to have some unique encounters with people.
What are the ethical implications of using age deception? There are definitely benefits when competing with younger people for jobs. Drawbacks are social awkwardness with coworkers. If a coworker learns too much about the age deceiver, a.k.a. me, then it compromises the deception. Being so emotionally closed to coworkers with whom most people spend much of their daily lives can cause loneliness and depression. Humans are social creatures and need to share.
I use my youthful looks and voice to get out of things. In my peer group, I constantly compare my success to those who are within a ten-year range of my age and have found myself woefully lacking in success. In my social circles, it seems that everyone is a millionaire! When people ask me about my career, I give them obscure answers that could be considered misleading—Like saying, “I am in Perishable Processing” or “I’m in acquisitions or sales” instead of saying “I work for a fast-food joint. May I acquire your order request and sale you this food?”
This little confession of obscuring my success helps keep people from looking down their noses at me for a time—at least long enough to get to know me enough to respect my opinions. It has worked so far.
Confessing that I use my looks to navigate social situations occasionally is an indictment on my character, of course. It is not something to be proud of. It is what it is, cowardice.
I mean, really, I do not want them to know that I am middle-aged still making the same stupid mistakes in life.
Men play dumb. It is a cultural fact. It is in our media, comedy. Look at all the sitcoms of the recent past and present. The new sitcoms are not like the Leave It To Beaver or Family Ties shows of the past. Present shows are more like The Cosby show where the dad is prone to making mistakes or the Home Improvement show where the dad blows things up occasionally.
Constantly due to youthful appearances I have found myself put in awkward moments when I make a mistake and some well-meaning person my age says, “You are young. We all make those choices in the beginning,”
I also get, “You have plenty of time to recover at your age.”
In my mind, I think, ‘We are the same age! Stop trying to mentor me.’
Usually, I simply smile and say something to the effect of “Gee, gosh. Glad I am so young and stuff. You are so smart!”
Other men and women do this. I have seen it. It is not as if we want to have them to know that middle-aged people are still making the same stupid mistakes in life that the young adults make. The confession is that to save face, I have let them think I am someone I am not, a young adult.
The irritating side of that is the parades of advice on how to be successful that tend to follow. It’s my fault. There is a face I know how to make that makes me look absolutely clueless. It works—even with my wife! It even works on my kids!
At least when I play dumb it is easy to blame on my fake young age instead of something else. However, it is a character flaw. Luckily, it is not something that often happens--especially since gray hairs are starting to show.
That is it for this week. ext time will be. Remember that a deception is a tool of the devil; and all things will be brought into the light, eventually. Can I say the Internet? Yeah, it is a virtual crystal ball!
Is it socially acceptable to be deceptive about your age?
© 2018 Rodric Anthony Johnson