“The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.” Oscar Wilde
Oliver Blanchard (better known as @thebrandbuilder) wrote a kick-ass column yesterday. Sick to death (as am I) of the recent hoopla that exploded in the social space over this article, he blew holes into yet another piece of lazy writing that set out to prove why “young people can’t/shouldn’t do X”. It was a well thought out rebuttal, and he got me thinking about the flip side of the coin. Being of a rather *koff* mature vintage, and currently on the job hunt in the social marketing space, surely I have experienced the reverse effect – that old people can’t/shouldn’t do X either…? I decided I was going to write a post about it, and lemme tell you, I was *gung ho*!
Fired Up And Ready To Go!
Ageism by strict definition is “the practice of discriminating against an individual or group of individuals on the basis of their chronological age.” And while any age group can be discriminated against (discrimination doesn’t discriminate! who knew? ) it’s usually the young and old who take it on the chin in the working world.
Here’s how it tends to break down:
- Young people are entitled brats with laughably high job expectations
- Young people are unreliable and lazy
- Young people can’t be trusted to handle sensitive issues
- Young people don’t have enough ‘real world’ experience.
- Old people are entitled middle-aged place holders who expect to work 7.45 hours a day
- Old people are reliable but boring
- Old people aren’t ‘hip’; and if they are ‘hip’, even worse – cause now they’re just sad old people who are trying too hard
- Old people are stuck in their ways and don’t know anything about the brave ‘new world’ of tech, etc.
But as Olivier so clearly pointed out in his post – none of those things are true. And all of those things are true. It depends on the person!
Absurd and Ridiculous
The act of actually *writing those statements down* was just so absurd and ridiculous that I had to check myself. I stopped writing and did some thinking. Had I really experienced any of the above? Or am I just in a position of vulnerability, which (if you’re anything like me) quickly lends itself to slight paranoia?
Paranoia takes it for the win!
What’s happening nowadays with all this hatred and vitriol in blog posts and articles and social commentary isn’t ageism. Sweet Christ on a cracker, if the recent spate of youth bashing – focussing on their relative immaturity, tactlessness and overall lack of concrete work experience as excuses for not hiring – had an ounce of truth behind it, my mature, tactful and experienced peers and I would have more job offers than Carter’s got little liver pills!
Reality check: the economy is still in the crapper. Jobs are scarce. No one has job security any longer. Young graduates can’t get jobs, and old(er) people can’t keep them.
The overall unemployment rate in Canada increased to 7.3 per cent in July and Ontario alone lost over 30,000 jobs. In Toronto, where I live, the unemployment rate sits around 8.5%. With 2.48 million people in Toronto proper (5.5 million in the Greater Toronto Area) that works out to a whole lot of people competing in an ever shrinking job market.
Enter Unemployment Armageddon – that’s when “survival of the fittest” kicks in. People regard others with suspicion. They hoard and feel threatened. And they feel the need to squash the other before the other squashes them. Prove themselves better. More worthy. The top dog! Ugh. All this does is create an environment that’s uncomfortable (at best) and pathetic (at worst). I’m not a squasher. And I didn’t want to add more rubbish to the fire.
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
But I am equal opportunist, so I’ll leave you with this:
Hey, you young people! Newsflash – you’re going to be old(er) some day soon. Trust me, time *really* starts a’flying! Spend a little time learning from – and valuing – those who’ve been around the block a few times.
And all you grumpy old people? Stop trying to squash the vibrancy, unpredictability and creativity of youth. Open your minds to the insanity in their wired, tech-savvy brains. Have them teach you the latest and greatest, if you don’t already know it.
Lesson learned today: stop and think sometimes – be really honest about what you’re feeling – before you add to the noise.
I started with a quote and I’ll leave you with a quote, one I think you can live by at any age.
“I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.” Francis Bacon
Thoughts? Have you experienced ageism? Or are you like me in thinking it’s simply a dog-eat-dog world out there?