The Ageist Trap? What is that?
Simple. It is just the unthinking use of words which reveal unwitting ageism.
Read a lovely blog today about our elders and how they should be given respect by us.
It reminded me of a similar kindly piece in a major National paper a little while ago. The writer addressed it’s readers on the subject of: What we need to think about when we are considering care for our elders……..
Here is another more recent one:
Wait a minute! What is going on here?
Allow me to put some bold and capitals in there. We, Us, Our ….They!
Just who is this ‘We‘ these writers are talking to? Sounds rather as if it is intended for younger readers, doesn’t it? Being a very ancient reader, I began to wonder. Was I not supposed to be reading this!
Close paper and have a think….
Who are these creatures categorised as ‘They‘? Do the writers really not see me as ‘One of us’? Am I now some kind of ‘ Other’? Or are the writers just being patronising?
Not sure I like either of those thoughts. Begin to feel rather uneasy. You can hear the concern building up can’t you? Unthinking wording, kindly meant, yes, but that subtle unease continues…
Ask myself, “Does it matter? It is all being written with the best of intentions isn’t it?” And I expect you are thinking ….lot of fuss about a few simple words. I wouldn’t blame you.
Can we try an experiment?
Let’s try putting this piece in a major paper.
Grandma Williams asks “What shall we do about the Younger generation?”
The under 70s need our help. They are in trouble. Housing, stress, working hours have become too difficult for them. Some are collapsing, finding the strain of living too much.
Younger, middle years people might look terribly fraught and strained, but we need to remember they are humans, like us, but at an earlier stage of life. They should be given the same respect and help we would expect. It is hard being in those middle years and it is up to all of us to care for them in any way we can. We need to push the Government to find answers for this increasing problem.
Have you begun to share my concern? Hope you can see the cause for unease becoming clear. Writing like this is demoralising and demeaning to its readers. Worse, it makes it obvious that whichever ‘They’ is being written about is not at present included.
Let’s go back to my original newspaper quote.
Was it accidental? Did an editor not notice how patronising it was? And was it seen as acceptable to allow a columnist to exclude people over 70 when addressing it’s readership? Rather worrying isn’t? Have the 30% + of us who now make up the ageing population become a different, invisible part of their customer base?
And if it was done unwittingly is that not of even more concern? Doesn’t it mean that someone unconsciously thinks of older people as a group outside their own active world? Did it not occur to the authors that, by using such casual wording, they were implying it was the case!
Even more worrying, did the writers , speaking on behalf of the elderly, not realise that by using such words, they themselves were actually being ageist!
Sadly, I suspect they didn’t.
The Trap caught them.