The politics and etiquette surrounding age and aging are complicated and will likely remain complicated. Susan Swartz throws down the gauntlet at BlogHer.com
I was at the BlogHer conference in New York when one of the panelists commented that “even” her own mother blogs. She called her mother “one of those elder bloggers.” Meaning, she said, “anyone over 50 who blogs.”
I pried my gnarled fingers off my Underwood, slammed down my Ensure and quaked, “Say, what, girlie?” That’s a joke. I would never say anything so ageist, but I did gulp and turned to my daughter to ask, “Might she be talking about moi?”
I am well over 50 and my daughter is well under and yet, blogging wise, she is the senior one. Someone might call her a hottie blogger. She probably wouldn’t object.
People have a right to decide how they should be addressed by others (this was covered in kindergarten) and it is wrong to apply any label to a person who rejects that label.
In this case, I am interested in WHY being labled as “one of those elder bloggers” is identified as an insult. Swartz continues…
Is Maya Angelou an elder poet? Is Annie Leibovitz an elder photographer? Is Madonna an elder rock star?
Not surprisingly, the blogging world is dominated by youngish people. A story in the New York Times said that 53 percent of bloggers are between the ages of 21 to 35. Only about 7 percent of bloggers are over 51. In the world of blogging the young are old hands, the old are newbies.
At the BlogHer conference there were more than 2,400 women bloggers, and certainly, the under-50 demo outnumbered the over-50. And over 60, like me.
We can refuse to accept the word “elder” being applied to us. Everyone has that right and we should all respect the wishes of individuals in this matter. We can also elect to use our life experience and influence to reclaim the word “elder.” I agree with Swartz here…
Were “elder” to deliver such a strong, respectful vibe it would be something to aspire to. It would be a designation that you earned, not something automatically granted when you become a certain age, like Medicare and movie discounts.
Then, if someone called me an elder, meaning that I was experienced, wise and worldly, I would flaunt it like a new pashmina.
Swartz’s concluding insight describes what the changingaging blog along along with its facebook posts, tweets and youtube videos are all about.
We will reclaim the word “elder” and redefine the experience of elderhood.
We confront a massively powerful and entrenched culture of ageism.