Non-issue feature: Age
News / March 24, 2010
This week’s feature is addressing non-issues, things that shouldn’t be an issue but are for some.
By Christopher poon [Media Editor]
Unfortunately, age plays a large role in how people respond and communicate with one another. As a teenager, how many times were you not taken seriously by adults because of your age?
A friend of mine recently related a story to me on how she had applied for a job online. Being highly-qualified, the company seemed ecstatic at having garnered the interest of someone of her calibre, and expressed as much through emails and phone calls. When she showed up to her job interview, the prospective employers were shocked at how young she appeared to be. They were stunned that somebody so young was capable of work that was apparently expected of someone older than she. My friend did not get the job.
It comes down to nothing more than textbook stereotyping. Many ‘adults’ believe that age, and age alone, defines a person’s intelligence, skill set, and mental and emotional capacity. This only serves as a detriment to both parties involved. As illustrated in the example above, the employer missed out on a potentially great addition to their company because they were unable to get past their own ignorance, and my friend came away with doubts about her own abilities.
As for myself, I’m pretty damn young-looking for my age as well. As a reporter, interviewing people is part of my job, and I’ve definitely come across people who seemed like they wouldn’t take me seriously based merely on how young I look. Imagine theirsurprise when I peg them with researched and well thought-out questions. A few people have been caught off guard in this regard, and that may even be a good thing in the world of reporting, but it’s something that could have been avoided altogether had they simply appreciate the climate of the situation (a reporter is going to ask you questions), rather than let their guards down because it’s just some ‘kid’ interviewing them.
Ageism isn’t an issue with just young people either, but for older people as well. Young people may think it weird when somebody who’s 10 or 20 years their senior enjoys the same music as them. I’ve come across this before, and even been guilty of it myself. Seniors probably have it the worst, as things seem to come full circle towards the end of our lifetime. Seniors are seen by many as being unable to properly care for themselves, perform simple functions such as driving and many are prone to being treated as ifthey’re helpless. You can only imagine how demoralizing this can be for someone who may still be perfectly able to perform certain tasks.
So suck up whatever pre-conceived notions you may have, maturity doesn’t merely refer to age, and that applies to both sides of the spectrum.