Age discrimination, a form of discrimination against other people because of their age, is a phenomenon that is under heavy fire in America, though internalised throughout the entire world, so much so that we can now say it out loud without any scruples. Young people who see older people as obstacles or burdens in social and work life also complain about being disdained or ignored by those who are older than them. Let us take a closer look at this sort of discrimination, which is the problem of every age group.
Most of us must have heard one of these worn-out platitudes blurted out at every opportunity: I was not born yesterday, I have been around the block a few times, or other stuff along the lines of “you are old enough to know better”, or “it is time to put yourself in the backseat now..”
Such negative and stereotypical comments about people of different ages do not differ significantly from racism and sexism. Imagine what sexism would do to you, seeing as it does not even treat Madonna posing for the Vogue magazine for the first time after 30 years with kids’ gloves.
Aging is an inevitable process
The term ageism, first coined by Robert N. Butler to describe discrimination by adults in 1969, is a problem that affects almost everyone, old or young.
Especially in the digital age we are in, old age is associated with disease and neediness; it can go as far as seeing old people as a burden since they do not contribute to the society and excluding them from economic and social life on the basis that old people cannot keep up with progress and are bound to lag behind. Young people are considered producers and old people consumers, with an emphasis on youth culture. It leaves old people in a position where they are perceived as things that need to be managed, which are of no use at all. I wish we could instead appreciate their vast knowledge about life and see their presence as an opportunity for self-improvement.
“You are too young for this!”
The other side of the coin is young people. As unemployment rises and it becomes more and more difficult to find a job, the number of workplaces looking for experienced employees under 30 years of age is also rising. Supposing one graduates from university the age of 22-23, maybe one needs to think about how much experience one could possibly have without having found the opportunity to work somewhere in the first place. In an age where it is relatively easy to make one knowledgeable about things even without having experience, is it so hard to accept an 18-year old could have the intellectual capacity of a 50-year old? How much sense does it make to judge people on the basis of their age in the 21st century? If you get lucky and find a job, the stigma of “inexperience” will bite you in the shape of low wages and not being cared about
In a society where people are exposed to all forms of discrimination in almost every area, it would perhaps be the right thing to do to take a step back and rid ourselves of age-related prejudices…