Is Ageism Real?
There are so many social media posts circulating that ask the question “is ageism real?” The authors of these posts go on to describe how inside of their own close-knit circles ageism doesn’t appear. They advise others that if they are experiencing ageism they are most likely “in the wrong place” – the wrong network, the wrong company, the wrong group of friends.
They are having two different conversations. To start, they are questioning the validity of those experiencing ageism, and then they are talking about how if ageism is impacting your life, you are surrounding yourself with the wrong people.
So, they are admitting that ageism is in fact real in the very same post that they are telling everyone that they don’t believe it to be real.
Ageism is very much real.
Some individuals don’t get lucky enough to avoid ageism, and aren’t able to leave toxic situations without a second thought. Many times, an individuals salary could be impacted if they decide to leave an ageist situation, and because of that, walking away isn’t an option.
That’s why we promote ageism education so heavily versus ageism avoidance. Ageism and age-based stereotyping can happen in any setting – social, work, healthcare, marketing, etc. You never know when or where a negatively impactful ageist message will find you, and the trick is to be prepared to deflect it and fight it rather than internalize it.
Having a toolkit of ideas to help you push ageism away can help your health and mental wellbeing as you navigate through life, and the constant stereotyping that comes with it.
Not all ageist stereotyping is intentional, but unfortunately that doesn’t make it impact you less. Intentional ageism or unintentional ageism has the same upsetting results.
What should you do if you encounter someone that doesn’t believe that you have experienced ageism? Here are some ideas:
Point Them Towards Resources
Share Ageism.org with them to give them a baseline knowledge of ageism and how it hurts individuals around the world. They might just not know what ageism really is, the depth of its reach, or who it impacts.
You can also share reading suggestions with them. There are plenty of books written about ageism that can be very educational about the who, what and why of age-based stereotypes.
Tell Them Personal Stories
Often those that don’t think ageism exists haven’t heard a personal story first-hand. Maybe they’ve read about ageism online or on social media, but reading about it and hearing about it live in person can have two very different effects.
Be as open, honest and detailed as possible. The more information you share, the more receptive they may be.
Ask Others To Share Their Personal Stories
Ask other people within your network to share personal stories too. These can be in-person or via email or social media. Because the individuals willing to share are within your network, the connection of association should make their stories more powerful for the person who thinks ageism doesn’t impact people around the world.