It’s very easy when we bring up the subject of ageism to assume immediately that it applies to discrimination against people of the older generations, but the fact is, the word itself applies to any discrimination against anyone for their age – younger or older.
My absolute view is that people should be assessed by their merit and capacity before anything else. Sometimes pointing out that someone is young is more about describing a lack of experience or exposure to ideas on their part than anything else, but it can be construed as a kind of ageism if it means that that person is not going to be given an opportunity.
At the same time, if a person isn’t qualified because they don’t have the experience nor the training nor the maturity to handle a job, then that is a decision based on their merit. If they are patently rejected from that job exclusively on their age – they are not even considered, their qualifications are not examined – that is ageism.
Likewise, people on the other end of the spectrum are often rejected out of hand because of this idea that they can’t learn anything new. The concept is that they have worked for years in relatively specialized jobs and found themselves suddenly obsolete, and while this isn’t exactly an unknown scenario, it’s not the only scenario. Someone in their 50s, for instance, is going to have a hard time changing careers or jobs because there are so many assumptions already made about what they don’t know. Can the Boomer Generation or the aging Gen-Xers get with the new programs?
It’s a whole new world, sure, but humans are made to be adaptable. Ageism is probably one of the worst kinds of discrimination because it immediately discounts both experience and training. How do you get around it? Well, good luck. I’ve gotten burned by both instances, so I’m still working to figure it out.
The good news on my side, though, is that I’m still a very young punk at a heart, and it shows.