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Ageism. Is this a real problem or a media creation?
Is there really conflict between youth and age?
The media is fond to claiming that young people blame the older generation for the sorry state of the world. It never seems to credit the same older people, with anything that is good. The media is filled with claims that younger people want the older generation out of “power” so they can take over and make the world a better place. Whenever there is an issue, from Britain leaving the EU to road traffic accidents, the media proclaims that it is old people causing problems for younger ones.
Is any of this true? Or just lazy journalism, where a sound bite conjured up out of the subeditors mind is easier than a serious, detailed consideration of any facts? To try and get some objectivity into this debate, we have to define old as over 60 years old and young as under 30 years old.
I see claims that any problems the world has today, particularly Western industrialised nations, are due to the older generation, there are other claims that the future problems of the world are also going to be due to the present older generation.
It seems the basis for these claims are mainly twofold; one is that the older generation are in power, and the second is that the present older generation have always been in power and always paid taxes, which are used to cause the present and future problems.
There are counterarguments, such as the present older generation were young once and inherited a place much worse than it will be when they hand it on. Try the second world war for just one example.
Another consideration is that, in our modern societies, much of the power does not lay in a government but with the media, the educationalists, and the popular cultures. In all of these the content is controlled by young, some very young, people. The media and commercial corporations all regard the “youth” market as being the only worthwhile one, and all their attentions are focused on pleasing and selling to this “youth” market. The power of consumerism does not reside in older generation, but in the young and younger middle-aged. These wield real power and these will be responsible for the fucked up world those now very young will inherit. By the time they become the older generation, it is a good guess that all their younger people will blame them for everything.
Ageism can operate in both directions, many older people consider the young to be noisy, irresponsible, layabouts. Why do people make such vague generalisations with no evidence? Because it is easier to blame someone, rather than actively consider all the interconnected issues involved in any problem. It is also apparent that each “generation” changes the criteria and basis for judgements, then looks back into the past and applies their new criteria, to historic decisions. They ignore the fact that those historic decisions, could never have been based on the same concepts.
Politically, the young have less experience of the realities of political idealism. Pragmatism gradually gains attention; and as we get more experience of life, we realise that just because something is a good idea, does not mean it will work in practice. While the media will claim older people are less willing to change and have more entrenched prejudices, the opposite may actually be true. As people age they, in general, become more tolerant and less impatient. As people have families and bring up children, who then provide grandchildren, older people gain input from several generations, their views expand. True they may not like the changes, but they know they exist. This experience of life as viewed through children and grandchildren causes a shift in priorities. What matters so passionately to a 20-year-old person, is far less important to someone who has lived through the same passions and seen them wax and wane, seen the results and the twin imposters, success, and failure.
So much of the apparent antagonism between the old and the young is a media invention. Conflict and scandal are the two biggest sellers, the two biggest hooks to get attention to a media platform. This being true, it is why these platforms need to provide conflict. Even illusions of conflict will bring people in. In most families, by no means all but in most, generation get along without serious conflict. There will be disagreements, there are between people of the same age, so disagreements are not inter-age related.
The media supported, by this wonderfully vague and unaccountable political correctness “movement,” uses hindsight to condemn decisions made in the past. These decisions were made based on the knowledge and social criteria that existed at that time, going back with new views and new information, that was not available at the time, is about as useful as asking why the chicken crossed the road. To claim political moral ground, by saying the older generation were wrong to make the decisions they did, is a lazy trick. A deceit on those who listen to rhetoric without bothering to find out truth.
Politically, the older generation have as much right to their views as younger ones. The greater idealism of youth is balanced out by the wider experience of age. The acceptance of political propaganda is reduced by the passing of time. Scepticism, and even cynicism, replace belief that any politician or political slogan, contain any real truth at all. Experience leads to the understanding that hope and good intentions do not make good governance. Older people may not like it, but they accept that views other than their own exist, while the left wing media tries to convince the young that no one has a right to oppose them. Extremist politicians from all sides of the spectrum gain from the illusion that the young are the only holders of truth. The only actual truth is that those young now will be the old in a few years time.
Ageism does exist, it works in both directions, but it is not as widespread or as entrenched as the media would have us believe. The media collude with extreme political activists to create a conflict that would not otherwise exist.