By Steve Moran
A few weeks ago I published an article on ageism in response to the recent New Yorker magazine cover that showed four aging politicians — two on the left and two on the right — all using walkers. It provoked substantial conversation, most of which was very respectful. The kind of conversation we need more of.
I also got a handful of private messages from individuals who all more or less saw ageism the way I do.
More Thinking …
One of the things that has been niggling at the back of my mind in all of this is that those who are vocal in the anti-ageism movement are often frustrated that I and other older people are not in particular bothered by humor that is age based.
This creates a tough and delicate problem because to be frustrated with older people not “getting it” is in itself a kind of ageism. Making it more complicated is that there are for sure cases where people are being abused or taken advantage of and they don’t recognize it. We call that Stockholm syndrome.
Maybe Impossible to Fix
Mostly what frustrates me is that most of the anti-ageism talk is about surface things rather than entrenched things. I have talked a lot about how patronizing those who work in senior living are toward those who live in senior living.
But it is more than that in our industry.
On LinkedIn there is a new, emerging group of young thought leaders who are super active. They post a lot, comment on each other’s stuff a lot, and give each other likes. All good, positive stuff.
Except that … when I drop into a conversation and when others who are older drop into the conversation, there is radio silence. And in the same vein, there is no effort to post or comment on things posted by or talked about by the older generation.
I think they are missing out on real wisdom from those of us who are a bit older.
I notice the same thing to be true when I go to conferences — that those who are in their 30s are not much interested in conversations with those in their 60s or older.
Is This Ageism?
My first reaction is that this is a kind of ageism, and maybe that is true, but it may well be that there are other better, more wholesome explanations.
- They are learning things about life and business that I and others learned decades ago.
- Their tastes in music and movies, video and art are different from those of us who are older.
- Many are raising families, while I and many others are doing the grandkid thing.
- It is harder to find things to talk about.
- Worst of all, if I am honest, when I was young like that, I thought very much the same way. I was modern, and the older people were not. They simply didn’t understand my struggles, opportunities, challenges, likes, and dislikes.
And Yet …
I, and my team, our tribe, have a few more miles to go — maybe even a few things we can teach the next generation. It seems likely that at Foresight, we have a bigger better generational span than any company in the senior living space — from Jada Clint, who is just one year out of university, to Jack Cumming, who is proudly in his mid 80s. They are continuing to make the world of senior living better.
We continue to lead the senior living pack on LinkedIn with live streaming and prerecorded video, slide decks, polls, and more.
It turns out that ageism is a very complicated problem, because much of it is in the eyes of the beholder. I am pretty sure if I put up a poll on LinkedIn and asked who was ageist, I would get a 100% not ageist response.
Mostly we need to be very cautious of accusing others of being anything?