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The Ageism of Mainstream Media

Stuck in the Mud – Or Discerning?

[EDITORIAL NOTE: The decision on where I've decided to move has been made. You can read about it at my companion blog, A Sense of Place.]

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“A friend said the other day, when I was venting about a 68 year-old relative who won't get what seems like depression checked out by a doctor, ‘Don't you think that after a certain age, people can't change?’ … I don't want to think we're limited that way. I want to think that humans can change at any age.”

That’s ML at Full Fathom Five, speaking in a recent post, and I agree. Old people change in large and small ways every day, just as they did when they were young, and it is a myth that old folks become “stuck in their ways.” But it is easy to see how some people mistake experience for stubbornness.

A few days ago, the kid at the store where I regularly purchase my coffee tried to get me to buy a new blend that was on sale. At one point in the "discussion," he said, "oh, try something new for a change." I did not.

What the kid didn't understand is that in 50-odd years of drinking coffee, I've tried dozens of blends. It took a lot of bad coffee to find the one I like.

A while ago, a friend who is closer to my age than the coffee store kid, tried to convince me to stay at a party after 10:30PM, because he thought I'd be missing out on a lot of fun by leaving.

I wake early and those quiet morning hours before the world gets moving are precious to me. No phone calls, few emails, no horns blaring in the street – just the birds, the cat and me. It is one of the great, small pleasures in my life and sets the tone for my day.

Besides, I learned long ago that nothing much happens past 10:30 or 11PM at a party other than people - even those I am fond of, and me too - get drunker and dumber.

People sometimes believe elders made a choice years ago and refuse to try anything new. They are wrong. We are not inflexible at all. What we are is discerning.

We have had decades of making poor choices to arrive at what are the best and most satisfying for us. New is not always better and if it is, older folks have had more years than younger ones yet to make that judgment.

Our consumer economy exhorts us to buy, buy, buy. The most effective sales word marketers can put on packaging is “new,” and it is the young who are most frequently sucked in by this usually more expensive and sometimes inferior version. If it’s new, they buy it. Their elders know to look behind the glitz and glitter of the advertising for quality and need.

In decisions large and small, old people make fewer mistakes. We do change – after we have weighed the issue and come to an informed conclusion based on experience, and it is a mild form of ageism to believe otherwise of elders.

In thinking this over now, it appears to me that it may be the younger ones who are the stick-in-the-muds, willing to spend their time and money on anything that is momentarily trendy. But give them time; they will learn too - the hard way, just as we had to.

[BLOG NOTES: Please check out Changing Places where Donna Woodka has posted a lovely meditation in words and photos on Wrinkles.]

Comments

Not totally true for all, but certainly for the majority. What youth does not realize is that while we bring forty +/- years of experience prior to their birth to our decisions, we also have the same 20 +/- years of experience that they have had in the last 20 years as well. And, we were mature enough to know what was going on. Just because something happened in "their" lifetime, doesn't mean it hasn't happened in ours as well!

You are absolutely right. Age brings experience and the ability to appreciate quality over novelty. But your blog A Sense of Place shows you are ready for change. Good luck.God bless you

"...after we have weighed the issue and come to an informed conclusion based on experience..." this is true to come extent, but not all informed conclusions are not just based on experience, but reasoning and thinking. empiricism isn't essential to learning life's lessons; i've learned a few things just by reading the article.

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