Whether you like it or not you will become old

Whether you like it or not, you will become old

It is not having vagina that makes life harder for women, it is SEXISM. It is not being white or being black that makes a person superior or inferior to another, it’s RACISM. Now that I think about it, black and white are JUST reflections of light. Relatedly, it is not getting old that makes life harder for old people, it’s AGEISM – the ageless monster that prides itself on discriminating on the basis of age.

It is experiential that if one doesn’t die, one will definitely become old. And it is said that with old age comes great wisdom. Be that as it may, everyone is scared of the prospect. Why won’t we? With old age also comes scary things like death (a natural but undue affiliation), retirement, dementia, loss of beauty and vigour and what have you.

For the most part, this fear is not borne out of our own perceptions of ourselves. No! But from the way the society perceives us; or more accurately, the way we think the society will perceive us, which begs the question: WHY WOULD ANYONE THINK THAT THE SOCIETY WILL PERCEIVE HIM DIFFERENTLY ON THE BASIS OF HIS AGE?

In a complex world of obsolete, trending and emerging isms, ageism prides itself – once again – in having the highest number of followers. To be specific, Kim Kardashian is an ageist, Ronaldo is an ageist, Bill Clinton is an ageist, you are an ageist, I am an ageist; we all are ageists. Come to think of it, how many times have we turned down an outing, a request, a relationship, a service etc. because it is NOT AGE APPROPRIATE?

Admittedly, our society is filled with ageists. And if it won’t be considered an indulgence, I’d like to welcome all newborns to a world where every young person thinks that he deserves certain privileges as opposed to an older person.

But a new pot that calls an old kettle black has only postponed its shame by a few meals. In other words, when these young people become old too, they will be deprived of such privileges, and they know that for a fact. They know with certainty that they will also be viewed through the same old lens they viewed their predecessors with and hence they worry about getting older. In this light, we will see that AGEISM is nothing but a fight against our own future self. 

To eradicate all feelings of sentimentality, ageism is not just a fight against old age. In fact, to say that it is may be considered illogical. In its own right, ageism is a prejudice that cuts across all ages. For instance, a twenty-six-year old lady, to a large extent, considers it inappropriate to go out with a twenty-year old man; a basic one teacher will beat an eight-year old boy for the same mistake he pardoned an eighteen-year old in the same class for; and a few days after she told me that eating meat is not too good for a person of her age, my mom ate two meats and gave me one. I am sure you know her reason. And many more of such instances.

However, it is definitely not wrong to say that the fight is prevalent against old age.

Retirement, for one, is to a certain extent an ageist idea. It is simply a societal inference that people of a particular age are not fit to work. As a matter of fact, organizations are not resourceful just because their employees are young. No! They are resourceful in spite of that. If you believe otherwise, then you have not heard about W. L Gore (the makers of the perennially time-honored fabric, Gore-Tex) and some other successful companies that have kept some of the same employees for over twenty years. More importantly, you have not met someone like my step dad (a man who is as old as Nigeria and always gets the job done). In a lighter sense, a lot of people will reject the service of a fifty-year old painter simply because they think he is too old to hold a brush, or because they think he has lost his skill to the passage of time.

In itself, retirement is a good idea. But it should be based on demerit (as in old age that affects workflow) and/or willingness of the employee, otherwise people will continue to lie about their ages and, in the long run, it will be to the disadvantage of their employers.

In a similar vein, a nation does not thrive because its leaders are young. A nation’s prosperity is not and will never be dependent on the age of its leaders. Nelson Mandela, who was globally considered a great leader, became the president of South Africa at the age of seventy-seven and he ruled for four years. Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani became the emir of the thriving state of Qatar in 2013 and he was just thirty-three years old at the time. And since I am in Nigeria, a country where virtually everyone believes old leaders are the bane of the nation, may I point out that Kogi state is not particularly happy with its governor (the youngest in Nigeria), Yahaya Adoza Bello. Despite anything to the contrary, the youths should be given chances too; else what we have is a reverse case of ageism.

Socioculturally, the status of old folks are below par. Without the influence of religion, we live in a society where quirkiness is defined as old people playing on the beach, or dancing in a club, or making out in the back seat of a car, or doing other things that we think is exclusive to the young folks. If this definition be twisted a little bit and you eventually find an old woman in a club, she may be considered culturally shameless (in Nigeria she will definitely be castigated and it may suddenly become a psychiatric concern), and maybe no one will want to dance with her. Why? Because her face is wrinkled and her figure 8 is distorted. Perhaps this is the reason some old people use anti-ageing creams.

You see, ageism and all of its one-eyed relatives are socially constructed ideas that pit us against one another. They need to be eradicated urgently, and the process can only start at the level of ideology. No one deserves to be discriminated on the basis of age, no one deserves to be treated with prejudice. Aging, for one, is not a disease; it is an evolution; it is living.

Please share and Let me know what you think in the comments section below. Thanks a bunch.


Thank you for reading. Please leave your comments.

  1. Hmmm....never really looked at it this way

  2. Very interesting article. Love this article. Waiting for this type of more articles.

    1. Thank you Metro. I am glad you loved it. I promise not to disappoint you.

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