The other day an email came in from PayPal. They wanted me to complete their survey. I often use PayPal; it’s a very convenient way of making online payments so I was happy enough to oblige. The first question concerned my age and I ticked the last box “over 55”. At that point a message came up saying I wasn’t “qualified” for the survey.
I discussed this with my better half, the lovely lady who runs this blog, and we wondered whether that wasn’t a little ageist. Ageism of course is not always directed at older people. Young people can be victims of it as well. And so can the middle aged for that matter. Oldies and youngsters can often see the world in similar ways so sometimes we enjoy ganging up on the middle aged who are generally in charge of things. We like to rebel a bit and pull at the apron strings. At 70 I feel much more like I did at 17 than at 37.
Unfortunately in Britain now there seems to be a trend to set young people and old people at each other’s throats. It gives the trashy end of the Press (with which Britain is overburdened) something to write about. Every generation grows up in different circumstances and it has to be said that mine who were teenagers in the 1960s had many things to be grateful for. University tuition was free and there was little unemployment. We could have a good time when young knowing that when we wanted to drop back into society there were jobs waiting for us. Today’s youth doesn’t have that luxury. Life is harder; there’s no question about that. But equally there’s an awful lot of pensioner poverty.
Right wing governments like Britain’s love to sew seeds of division to distract from their own policies that have often caused the problems in the first place. All discrimination is based on false distinctions and fear, but ageism is perhaps unique in that you will one day yourself (you hope) become what you are targeting and in reverse you have once been that which you now deride but hopefully thoroughly enjoyed at the time. The old have been young. The young become the old.