Questions about age are those most dragged conversational points of everyday discourse. There are even articles that talk about this savoir vivre of talking about age. We continue to dodge questions seeking to identify the biological number representing for how long we’ve been around. It begs the question of why are we so preoccupied with determining people’s age when there are better metrics to evaluate someone’s experiences.
In the dating sphere, the biological age seems to be the most crucial factor that determines someone’s dating appeal. In the world of leadership, the wisdom age is the most important aspect of someone’s social profile. Where do these differences come from?
The dating world expects freshness and physical attractiveness, which are often attributed to the body of someone who is under the age of 30. There are countless jokes about what it’s like to date at 20, 30, and over 40. The ramifications of these conversations are serious because it negatively influences everyone’s self-esteem.
Meanwhile, when it comes to doing business or being the leader in an organization, or political office — the wisdom age predominates in value. It is common for people to point out how many years of experience they have in a given field in comparison to the next most competitive candidate. In tribal societies in Africa and Southeast Asia, the age determines someone’s role in the society, where the elderly hold the most senior and influential positions. This tells us something about the age — it is a good gauge for identifying leaders, who make important decisions. In all other aspects, the age is negotiable — for some, being younger will be important, while for others, being older will be critical toward achieving happiness.
Given these differences between how we perceive the age difference, depending on the sphere of social life, we need to think about whether in the age of technology and advances in medicine, age shaming is even relevant.
The best place to realize that the problem of age shaming is real is the doctor’s office. Whenever I ask patients about their age, in nearly 70% of cases people pause for a few seconds before they whisper a number. It’s weird because you can see their age in their paperwork, so it’s a matter of confirming something that is already obvious.
In the society filled with preconceptions about what people at a particular age bracket can do, it is easy to find yourself perplexed with accepting the numerical summary of your existence. It seems that we need to rethink how we approach the process of aging, so it becomes less stigmatizing. What we need to achieve is the level-based assessment of age and the perks and responsibilities that come with the different age levels. For instance, if people are 20, we should expect them to be least experienced in the workplace, but most open-minded in the social sphere; meanwhile, people who are over 50 have considerable life experience that’s an asset in the work environment, and they might be experienced in the different aspects of personal, professional, and global levels.
If we go back to our discussion about the dating, we also need to revise how we approach age shaming. While it is perfectly reasonable for 20-year-olds seeking out 20-year-olds for a relationship, there’s nothing wrong about 60-year-olds dating 30-year-olds. We always forget about the golden rule of “as long as it doesn’t affect me, I don’t need to intervene in someone’s happiness.” What this means is that just because other people have different standards in regards to how they judge people concerning their age, it doesn’t say that that’s the right approach.
Age shouldn’t be the point of conversation, where someone feels more ‘right’ only because they are younger or older. It doesn’t matter because numerous factors influence whether people positively perceive us. Therefore, it is vital to reevaluate how we see ourselves and others in the world that uses age as a form of a prequalification score for getting a job or finding love.