Where does all this negativity about old age come from? I have a surprising idea.
Our American culture is more youth-centric and ageist than ever, in spite of the rising number of older people. Why is that? Here’s my hypothesis:
Ageism is rampant in the workplace, especially in media and tech. It’s the hardest form of discrimination to prove, and the most common. So after you, Corporate People, run off or choose not to hire older folks, and only youngish people are left to run things, what’s going to happen? One point of view will dominate. Youngish people will decide which stories have value and should be broadcast or published, which films should be made, and whose voice or perspective should be heard.
As a result, their decisions shape our national view of ourselves. We’re all brainwashed, even if we think we’re impervious.
However, young adults are the most unhappy of all age groups. This has been proven scientifically across the globe (see Happiness U-Curve).
So if they’re painting the picture of how we see age, it’s going to skew negative.
I give the kids the benefit of the doubt. They can’t help it. They see life through morose-colored glasses. To their thinking, old age could only be worse!
Knowing this, we can rise above the negativity about our age group. We can stop moaning about our looks, and celebrate positive brain changes, for example.
We can stop awarding gold stars to old people based on how young they act, and instead, let every age group radiate goodness based on its particular outstanding qualities of the moment.
As a kindness, you might educate the young people around you. Tell them it will get better. Express your appreciation for their labors, because they’re working their asses off even though they think it’s going to go downhill from here. (That’s pretty heroic. Do you remember being in that place? I do. It was tough.)
The kids are burdened now, but all science points to a mood upswing at about age fifty. So love them, but don’t believe them, because their viewpoint is kind of messed up. That’s my hypothesis, anyway. What do you think?