IDEA: Can we create a society in which ageism is not a thing?
Lately, I’ve been working at my favorite food co-op while trying to find a new life/job post-illness and I’ve made some pretty incredible friends. The co-op provides fantastic quality, mostly organic, and mostly local food for the community. If you’re a member (which I was not before working there), you can get a pretty great discount (24%) so good quality foods are not as expensive. Anyway, this is right up my alley, clearly.
The best part of working this job is not the discounts, but the people I work with on a daily basis. Most of them are incredibly intelligent and all of us have at least a Bachelor’s Degree while some of us have a Master’s or Doctorate. It’s good to note that many people are members who work there on a volunteer basis strictly for the discount and many are in life transitions (such as myself) who want to be around good food and good people.
Considering there are sick senior discounts and most of the people who have time to volunteer are retired, I have made a lot of friends who are significantly older than me. These 65+ badasses think like me, dress like me, and care about a lot of the same things I do. You could argue that they are all over-educated hippies, but I consider that a compliment. My point is that I am so surprised that I didn’t have senior citizen amigos before I started working at this co-op. Really, I find it incredibly strange that this is so uncommon.
We talk about sexism and racism all day. Ageism is not a problem people think about too often, but how many times have you ignored someone unrelated to you simply because they are a small child or an old person? Sure, families can hang, but why don’t people have friendships with people who are mad older and younger than them? For example, how cool would it be if we hosted parties where we can have a drink and a nice conversation with someone in their 60’s and someone who’s like, 14, and that can just be normal (well, maybe the 14yo would have a soda)?
I was on my break the other day and this little girl who was about 7yo or so was trying so hard to get her mom and my 60-something co-op friend to hang out with her and play with this dog, but they were talking about “adult” things that she wouldn’t understand, so they shooed her away. I remember being just as frustrated as she was when I was that young and my parents/other adults would ignore me, too. It’s kind of disrespectful. Why not invite this little girl to join a conversation about buying a house? She’s going to live in it anyway! Why not take some time out of that conversation and play with the dog together and take the time to explain something that the little girl previously did not understand?
Some argue that the problem with this current economy (hella recession, The Economist spreading lies, recent graduates can’t find a decent job) is that Baby Boomers are refusing to retire and let the young, eager ones, enter the workforce. Meanwhile, the Baby Boomers (see any article by The Economist) claim that Millenials are “too lazy” to get a “real job.” I’ve been hanging out with some Baby Boomers and these friends are super awesome, so why can’t we all get along?
Maybe our current economy is a result of this lack of communication between generations and maybe it isn’t, but a shift in perspective cannot be harmful. Let’s shift to a tribe-like mentality when it comes to intergenerational friendships. I’m already trying to close this gap and I’m planning on experimenting (and enjoying myself for once) by hosting some kind of event with all types of generations. Maybe instead of giving an invitation to my cousin, I will hand write one especially for her daughter as well. I can invite the cool older people I met at the co-op and try to mend the strange discomfort that comes from befriending someone from another generation.
Let’s all try it! It could be pretty damn cool.
Do you feel uncomfortable around people of different ages? Discuss this concept in the comments below.
- Financial Tribune