In spite of our name, you will rarely see the word ageism used here. We believe that the best way to change minds is not to lecture or harangue — because, really, how well does that ever work? — but to show positive examples from the world around us. We believe that story is how we learn, so we tell people’s stories in a way that is inspirational, aspirational, and attainable. Our approach seems to be working as evidenced by almost 50% of our readers being under 50, although we almost never publish a profile of anyone under 50. When we investigated this curious fact, we found that people younger than us wanted to learn from and look forward to being like us. I call that a win.
Ageism is peculiar in the world of the “isms,” where there seems to always be fear of some perceived difference, in that what one is fearful of is one’s future self. Is it fear of mortality? Or is it too much negative focus by brands and media on age? Or maybe something to do with the primacy of species reproduction being hardwired into us? Ageism is unique in that it is dynamic in a way that race, gender or other traits are not.
We have also found that there is widespread age dysmorphia — we may be a certain chronological age, but may feel ourselves to be considerably younger. Even more confusing, this dysmorphia will vary from day to day, or even within a day. Some days we may feel 40, others days after a hard workout maybe we feel 60. Perhaps this was not the case 20 or 50 years ago but, now, as some people are taking better care of themselves they just don’t feel what they think someone their age should feel. One may hear comments like, “Even at his age he learned this new thing” as if we should be astounded that learning capacity is a continuing human attribute.
My personal feeling is that just by the weight of numbers — there are more people living longer, healthier lives than ever before — ageism will decline. It has to. You can’t simply marginalize 40% of the population. Well, I guess one could, but the economic and societal costs would be pretty hard on everyone.
Until next week,