There’s no discrimination as widespread as ageism. Even sexism and racism can’t claim to affect as many people as does ageism.
We’re all subject to the unfairness of ageist stereotyping simply because as we move through the phases of our lives, we can’t escape the aging process. We are all young, and as long as tragedy does not strike us, we will all be old eventually. You’d think we’d be a little more aware of the injustice of judging others solely on their age.
What is truly astounding is how easily we slip into these assumptions about people based on their age. How much potential is wasted because we’ve “written off” ideas from those labelled as “too young” or “too old”?
It’s all about the experience
One thing that has to change is the idea that age automatically equals wisdom. I once had a boss who explained this concept to me most eloquently. While in the midst of hiring for a position, he explained that it is essential to uncover some crucial details about the job applicants during the interview. He asked me to explore the following: “Does the person have 10 years of experience? Or do they have one year of experience, 10 times?”
On the other side, it is also wise to explore the assumptions of youthfulness. Young people have been assumed to be inexperienced or lacking knowledge. But more and more scientific research suggests this is bunk. Some of the wisest people you and I know are young.
Wisdom does not correspond to age
Young people can represent the “evolution of us.” In many cases, it doesn’t take as long for young people to learn the same things their parents or older siblings did (change happens that quickly now). Concepts such as information overload are simply not as much of an issue for a generation trained to sort and filter massive amounts of facts and data from childhood. They do it better because they haven’t known the world any other way.
Contrary to what some might say, older people are able to adapt to change, modify their behaviour and match the skills of their younger cohorts. As you age, it’s your responsibility to stay “on top of your game,” look after your physical and mental health…not coast through your older years based on past achievements.
And if you keep up with the times, it is only fair that you be treated with respect and that you are valued, not dismissed based on your graying hair. Don’t make assumptions about anyone based on their age – young or old. Get to know them.
Value those who break the mould
In a perfect world, we would recognize that an “old fogey” is able to think like a young person. Or that a “young whipper-snapper” does have the ability to understand the past like an older person. Don’t give in to lazy ageist thinking and we’ll realize more of our true human potential.