Age discrimination and blogging…

One of the interesting things about blogging is that no one knows how old we are unless we beat them over the head with it.

We communicate our interests, our fears, and our dislikes by the way we write on our weblogs. If we are generally upbeat and write about interesting things, the reader is captivated by our ideas, not our credentials.

I have visited a number of blogs recently, where the attention is on the problems of aging in a youth-oriented society. I know from personal experience how demoralizing it can be when managers are so obviously put off by an employee’s age. It frequently shows up in interviews and it takes an outgoing and unusually personable candidate to overcome the barrier of being sixty-plus in an under-forty environment.

In responding to a post on Ronni Bennet’s blog, Time Goes By, I finally twigged on what I believe to be the underlying cause of age discrimination.

I believe age discrimination springs from fear. We older people have something these young managers fear they will catch – old age. UPDATE: We older people also may appear as potential authority figures who can become a problem. See my comment for more on this.

The young and not-so-young managers prefer to avoid the company of those who exhibit the characteristics they themselves are so desperately resisting. There is this image of low vitality, low energy and fearful suspicion which is the oposite of what every young manager feels himself to be.

Older employees often exhibit fear, because they see themselves being considered costly and expendable. If they aren’t fearful, they are often stubbornly adamant about following policy, which these older employees see as a means to be fairly treated. (Good luck with that!)

Older employees tend to be less enthusiastic about poorly planned programs and give away their feelings by their conspicuous lack of arm-waving and cheering at lame announcements.

Let us who are over fifty take a somewhat different approach to age discrimination. When people don’t want to associate with us because we are too old, we should ask ourselves why are we desirous of associating with them at all? We can allay their fears by inspired and engaging conversation, but what is the long term benefit? These are people afraid of what we represent: their future selves.

It’s better to find friends and supporters who value us for our contributions, not our looks. That is certainly the situation with most bloggers. If you blog well, nobody knows that you are a dog, or look like Lon Chaney, Jr on a bad day. It is your production that counts, which is the way it should be.

When our days are filled with adventure, as is the case when blogging, the matter of age become  less significant. If our scope of action is limited because we are too young or too old, then age is understandably a problem. Otherwise, it should not be so.

Regret is an effort to turn back the calendar. It doesn’t accomplish anything. Embrace life as it comes, always looking to achieve your dreams. When you run out of dreams, you are in trouble, so keeping your dreams alive is job number one.

There are an infinite number of dreams. For example, if you can’t hang-glide anymore, then write about it. If you can’t write about it, then help someone else achieve their dreams. There is always a way to help others achieve their dreams.  Even a kind word at the right time will help.

I hope this post suggests ways for you to overcome the effects of age discrimination. I would be interested in your experiences along this line.

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