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pushing back against ageism—which affects everyone

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Yo, Is This Ageist?

Are We Really All “Fox News” Fans Just Because We’re Old?

Saw this today: ”Fox News is the number one cable news network in this country—by a wide margin—largely because it kills it with old people. If you are an old white person in the United States who watches cable news, you probably watch Fox.” — Ben Dreyfuss, “Mother Jones” FB page, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.

I fit the above demographic, but I love “Mother Jones” and dislike “Fox.”  Yo, is one of my favorite magazines being ageist?

It doesn’t end there, but suggests all old people are consumed by nostalgia for the “good ‘ol days”: ”Well, it shouts about how the country ain’t what it used to be. With Vaseline on the lens, it plays the nostalgia game and confirms old people’s belief that the America they grew up in was actually as great as they’ve romanticized it to be. Everything wrong with the world today? That wasn’t a problem back in the ol’ days! Ebola? ISIS? Not in their day! The internet did it! The gays did it! The rock & roll did it! This country used to stand for something, by howdy! What is this world coming to? Where is it going?”

Terry Koch

I’m afraid so, Terry. Any assumption about an entire generation, whether that Millennials are self-indulgent or boomers nostagia-fogged, is inherently ageist. Stereotyping is always a mistake, but especially when it comes to age, because the older we get the more different from each other we become. Some “old white people” are glued to Fox News while others mobilize against fracking. 

On its website Mother Jones aligns itself with those “fighting to end discrimination.” Ageism is discrimination, the magazine is contributing to it, and I hope you’ll call them out. 

RealPad from AARP…Really?

By G. Richard “Dick” Ambrosius, founder of Positive Aging

At last, the professionals at AARP have recognized how helpless those of us over 60 are when it comes to technology. Younger adults would have no doubt noticed the wide variety of tablets currently available while visiting Best Buy, Costco, Sam’s Club, the Apple Store, etc. However, we oldsters have been waiting for AARP, known for their technology products, to provide us with a solution just for us.

The copy in AARP’s new product announcement proves they truly understand us:

  • RealReady - It lets you quickly locate the information most important to you. No confusion and no frustration. Wow…none of the other tech companies know what is important to me…you’d think I would know by now.
  • RealPad is all about being user friendly…educational content are preloaded —AARP even knows what don’t know and desire to learn. Unlike my laptop and current tablet, it can connect to Wi-Fi so I can browse the Internet, access email, read books, video chat, share photos and more. WAIT! I can already do all of that.
  • RealPower At just 14 ounces, RealPad may be light, but it’s no lightweight. Our debilitated muscles will have no problem carrying this Pad to our RealRocker.
  • RealPad is quite an eyeful…And you can use RealPad anywhere in the world Wi-Fi is available. Why didn’t other tech companies think of this?
  • RealHelp All this seem like a lot to handle? You can relax. With 24/7 live help over the phone, you’ll have someone to answer your questions all day every day (As out of touch older adults you may not know that is what 24/7 means).RealPad also comes loaded with more than 20 step-by-step videos (we hate those thick user manuals, don’t you?) I sure do, which is why I have never used one and depend on YouTube, Google, Ask etc.
  • RealValue So now you have no excuses. Damn those aging advocates at AARP have thought of everything… guess I have to buy one.

It certainly seems that AARP never misses a bold branding opportunity to remind older adults they aren’t who/what they used to be and they need a dumbed-down version of what the cool kids are using. Laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. It is not enough that the brand name reminds one of a feminine hygiene product; I think the copy borders on ageism.

This product has nothing to do with age, but rather those with no knowledge or experience with technology…the Explorer. That is ageless marketing and it would be great if the largest aging organization provided positive rather than negative examples.

Oldpeoplefacebook?

According to the sidebar on Reddit, a hugely  popular news and entertainment site, “This is a place to share funny, weird, and entertaining posts from people still trying to figure out how social media “works”. It doesn’t have to be old people, necessarily. It’s just that old people are usually the worst offenders!” Yes, lots of the posts are funny, many featuring grandmothers who accidentally tag rap icon Grandmaster Flash in their autofilled Facebook status. That’s funny! But swap  ”black” or “women” for “old” and it stops being funny. Stereotyping people as stupid or inept on the basis of age is no more acceptable

Anonymous asked: I once heard a university professor describe a class on the sociology of aging in which one of the assignments he assigned his students was to spend "a day in the life of" -- this involved smearing vaseline on eyeglasses to simulate vision problems, putting cotton in ears to simulate vision loss, wrapping hands in tensors to simulate arthritis, etc. What do you think of this?

Activities like these develop empathy, always a good thing, and make for more intelligent and compassionate dealings with the old old, whether patients, customers, parents, or just the really slow-moving person between you and the cash register. I hope the class also discusses the fact  that olders adapt in countless ways to these gradual physical changes, and continue to enjoy active lives.

Anonymous asked: In this week's New York magazine, a spokesman for Air B&B says, "'Most people want this. The only people who don't are older,' he adds. 'People who have less experience with technology and innovation and just like things the way they are.' In the tech industry, it's still not somehow considered breathtakingly rude to call someone old to their face, or to brush off their very real world concerns as out of touch, or to otherwise deem their lives irrelevant."

I wish ageism were confined to the tech industry, but salute the writer for calling out the AirB&B guy’s false and obnoxious statement. It’s simply not true that the internet is a young person’s medium, nor that olders “just like things the way they are.” For example, gray heads were abundant among the 400,000 people clamoring for change at this week’s historic climate march.

Actually titled “Younger,” this sitcom follows a 40-year old newly single mom who revitalizes her career by passing herself off as a 20-something. Sequels in development: “Actually Not Younger,” “Demoralized,” “Desperate,” and “Liza Discovers Feminism.” Just kidding about the sequels.

Actually titled “Younger,” this sitcom follows a 40-year old newly single mom who revitalizes her career by passing herself off as a 20-something. Sequels in development: “Actually Not Younger,” “Demoralized,” “Desperate,” and “Liza Discovers Feminism.” Just kidding about the sequels.

Anonymous asked: From a Q&A column in the real estate section: "Q. Our bathroom is outfitted with grab bars, anti-slip mats and other safety features. Should we remove them before trying to sell?" An agent advises removing them “because they’re easily removed, and it just eliminates a distraction and a conversation you don’t want to have.”

Ageist, ableist, and stupid. Why show the house to older people, after all?  Or to anyone whose households might include older members or people with disabilities? Or to anyone athletic who might someday injure themselves? And for heavens sake keep the person who needs those grab bars out of sight during the open house!

Anonymous asked: This PSA for the Common Core curriculum?

Ouch! In this staggeringly insulting video, “Pop-pop” plays an ignorant, rude, biased, blowhard. The only thing that comes off worse is Six One Seven Studios, the group that cooked up this campaign.

From Hana: I had two thoughts looking at this poster in the window of a tanning salon:
1. Actually, aging isn’t optional, unless you’re not alive.
2. Doesn’t tanning increase wrinkles, which are one of society’s most visibly associated symbols of aging?
Right on both counts—and not the first time I’ve seen tanning joints tout their “anti-aging” properties.

From Hana: I had two thoughts looking at this poster in the window of a tanning salon:

1. Actually, aging isn’t optional, unless you’re not alive.

2. Doesn’t tanning increase wrinkles, which are one of society’s most visibly associated symbols of aging?

Right on both counts—and not the first time I’ve seen tanning joints tout their “anti-aging” properties.

Fake Bus Stops Designed to Fool Old People

From Josh: A Senior Center in Germany has planted a fake bus stop out front in order to fool Alzheimer’s patients into sitting down and waiting for a bus instead of wandering off into the City, a strategy which has begun to spread. Presumably this saves police resources and minimizes stress among their caregivers, but it does so by taking advantage of the diminished mental capacities of these oldsters. Is this a brilliant social services strategy or a cruel ageist trick?

This has less to do with how society treats older people than with how it treats people who are cognitively impaired. Fake bus stops do involve deceit, which is ethically problematic. They aren’t cruel, though, because no one is being hurt, and it’s hard to take issue with furniture that keeps people safe, helps caregivers, and saves money.