We have all heard our generation, whatever it is, put down as a group.
“Millennials all think that . . .”
“If only the Baby Boomers were not all so . . .”
We even do it to ourselves, especially when it is to our advantage.
“Our generation had to sacrifice to make yours possible . . .”
“Gen X are the hardest workers . . .”
This is doing none of us any good. Generalizations do not hold up when you meet actual individuals. No one fits all the stereotypes. Instead, these ageist generalizations separate us from each other. They keep us from reaching our highest potential as individuals and as communities.
It is a problem that we are so separated by age in our society. Per a recent study, less than half of all adults have a friend who is a generation younger or older than them. Research also shows that lack of contact leads to discrimination and that even “mere exposure” can reduce prejudice.
Intergenerational conversations reduce ageism
In contrast, Interaction between ages reduces ageism: “. . . programs that foster intergenerational contact, combined with education about the aging process and its misconceptions, worked best at reducing ageist attitudes.”
These interactions also benefit people of all ages. We all have something to learn from those both younger and older than us.
We need more of these conversations if we want to fight ageism. It is time to break down the generational barriers that keep up from becoming all we can be – at every age.
Introducing: on the same pAGE
From October 25 through November 3, Changing the Narrative will be sponsoring on the same pAGE, a campaign to encourage intergenerational conversations on ageism around the state.
Why are we doing this? Ageism—the stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age—is pervasive! It can be directed people of all ages. No matter who is on the receiving end, it reduces opportunities and diminishes us all.
We can do better. When generations come together to share their knowledge and perspectives, people’s attitudes about age improve. Collectively, we can challenge our assumptions and fight ageism.
Interested? Sign up. There are lots of ways to be a part:
- Gather friends for a private conversation in your own space
- Arrange a conversation in a public space like a coffeeshop (we’ll provide facilitator tips, as well as a gift card to buy a round of coffee).
- Host a conversation at your business or organization.
- Join a conversation near you! You can sign up to participate.
We provide a host toolkit with suggested activities, questions and more.
Together we can make a difference. The movement to #endageism starts with us talking about it together. Get involved today!
Sara Breindel, Changing the Narrative blogger