By Jeremy Southern, former executive creative director and current freelance creative/copywriter
As discriminations go, ageism is relatively young. And by that, I mean it has only recently started to be identified as a ‘thing.’
Other forms of discrimination such as racism, sexism, homophobia, genderism, ableism etc have been in the public eye for some time now and have become embedded in our consciousness as inappropriate and offensive behaviour.
But ageism, well not so much.
Give us a Rubiales kiss, same sex marriage ban or Matilda’s pay disparity and we become keyboard warriors faster than you can say discrimination.
But tell us about someone who can’t get a job because they’re ‘old’ and we just shrug our shoulders and focus on to what we deem to be more poignant issues.
You see, for whatever reason, ageism just doesn’t resonate with us as much as it should.
Maybe it’s because ageing is such a universal malaise.
Like it or not, every single one of us is gonna get old. Doesn’t matter a damn what colour, creed, sexual orientation or gender we are.
And with this being the case, it can be hard to identify a minority with which to empathise. After all, we’ll all be in the same boat eventually.
But that’s not the only roadblock to ageism acceptance. There’s also human nature to consider.
Many of us look at older people and assume, rightly or wrongly, that they’ve had their chance.
They were young once and had great careers, jet-setting lifestyles and munificent salaries.
In other words, they had ample opportunities to set themselves up for later life. Investment properties, side hustles, managed funds etc.
The fact that they didn’t, well, that’s on them.
The final reason is a simple one. None of us likes to be reminded of the fact that we are gonna get old. We would rather sweep it under the carpet and pretend it isn’t going to happen.
And by ignoring age in this way, we also by extension, ignore ageism.
Which brings us to the million-dollar question. How can ageism overcome these issues and become the new darling of the discrimination world?
Well, unfortunately, it’s going to require a change of approach.
Many of us older folk hail from a generation that was taught not to not kick up a fuss.
But it’s clear that quiet stoicism and a stiff upper lip ain’t going to cut it in a world hungry for the next cause célèbre.
Instead, we need to do as other discriminated minorities have done before us and raise awareness of the issue. Publicly and vociferously.
Every time you are discriminated against because of age, hit social media and make sure the world knows.
Name and shame the perpetrators and make them realise it is not o.k to lay you off or reject your application because of your age.
Let Dylan Thomas’s immortal poem “Do not go gentle into that good night’ be your mantra and, from here on in, “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
To contact Jeremy Southern email him at firstname.lastname@example.org