Over the past few months I have posted a few items (mostly videos) that poked fun at what happens to us as we grow older. In virtually every case someone has come along and suggested that I or the creators of the post was ageist. My response to those responses was to mentally roll my eyes.
Then I got to wondering if, in my own rapidly approaching old age, I really had become an ageist. I have to start by confessing that I couldn’t even spell Ageism properly without turning to Google. I am not sure if that was a sign of my getting older (an ageist statement, I think) or that I am just generally a terrible speller (spellerism?).
From that vaunted source Wikipedia Ageism is defined as follows: “ “Ageism, or age discrimination, is stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups because of their age. It is a set of beliefs, attitudes, norms, and values used to justify age based prejudice, discrimination, and subordination.” The term was originally coined to address real or perceived prejudices against seniors, but apparently can be used with any age group (not sure if I can say age group without being ageist).
What Really Got Me Going
A number of Senior industry sites posted this “granny pod” clip from the Steven Colbert Show:
And I thought wow, just how ageist can you get? The final straw that drives me to write this article was the huge publicity surrounding Brent Musburger’s (age 73) fawning comments about Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron’s spectacularly attractive girlfriend (guessing THAT is some type of . . .ism) Katherine Webb. The politically correct crowd seemed to believe his comments fell into one of two categories:
That given, Musburger’s age, what he said were the comments of a creepy old man.
That given his advanced age he should be let off the hook. HUH?
I find myself scratching my head, totally confused about this whole ageism thing.
- Clearly Katherine Webb was not offended, nor should she be. She is Miss Alabama, 2012, an award she won primarily for her looks. Not only that, Musburger's comments have pushed her visibility into the stratosphere. A good thing for someone who is already in the business of building their personal visibility.
- We learned that 86 year old Hugh Hefner married a twenty-six year old on Christmas eve. Now that is creepy. Can you imagine being that poor girl’s parents? Hefner makes Musburger look like a choirboy.
- I am almost 58 and still notice beautiful women (yes my wife edited this before I published it). I find myself wondering when I am supposed to quit noticing or when my noticing become creepy (who knows, maybe I have already crossed over to the dark side.)
- If what Musburger did was, in fact, really offensive, to let him off the hook because he is 73 is the ultimate example of ageism.
- I am 58 years old and there are things I am not as good at today as I was when I was younger. That’s life!
- There are also things that I was interested in when I was younger and am not today. That’s life!
- At the same time there are things I can do today and things I understand today that I didn’t get 10 or 20 years ago. That’s life!
I can still out ski most people half my age. I can safely pull a toboggan loaded with a injured snowboarder young enough to be my child or even my grandchild down a black diamond ski slope. I am smarter today than I have ever been, partly because I know more stuff and partly because I have a better perspective on life. My decision-making may be a tiny bit slower, but that is mostly because I make better decisions when I slow down, not because I am impaired.
I grin every time I walk into McDonald’s and order a senior coffee, saving a quarter. Every time I talk with a teen or young adult who talks to me like I am “too old to know . . . “, I laugh because I know that when they get to know me they will be blown away at how brilliant I am.
When I get a bit older I will appreciate the cheaper movies, meals and lift tickets. I actually like the idea that advertisers want to datamine me to figure out what products and services to pitch to me. There are lots of things that were interesting to me at 20, 30 and 40 and are less important today. Let’s quit getting offended over stupid PC stuff and get on with living life!
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