Today I am going to address something I see a lot of – entitled behavior on the part of “senior citizens” (basically, anyone 55 or older). I feel I have every right to comment on this, as I am in that age group.
Every time I interact with most people my age or older, the same refrain runs through my mind:
“I swear I am never going to become like these people.”
And if I ever do start exhibiting these odious behaviors, I want my loved ones to take me to a neuropsychologist to find out why, because it would be a drastic personality change.
I can count on one hand how many older people I deal with who are nice, down-to-earth (not snobby), funny, and kind. I have friends my age, and they’re great! But they are not typical of folks our age.
The rest of the seniors I encounter are, quite frankly, jerks. Many assume everyone else their age is like them, too – so they are rather free in their assertions and hateful talk. Rather than asking, “What do you think?” they make pronouncements about society that “everyone agrees with.”
Uh-uh, hold on a minute Grandma and Grandpa – not everyone is like you. I fervently hope most people are not like you. Keep your voice down and try asking others what they think, instead of being a pompous ass about any given subject (which you may or may not know anything about).
And stop forcing everyone to be quiet while you do things such as require prayer in tax-funded service agencies. You’re wrong to do this, and you’ve had plenty of time to familiarize yourself with our Constitution to know why this isn’t right.
The attitude that drives “senior entitlement” is this:
“I am elderly, so what I want, and what I think, supersede what everyone else wants and thinks. I earned it! And if you don’t do what I want, or you argue with me, you’re being disrespectful.”
Sorry, but I subscribe to the belief that no one gets automatic respect just due to their age. All it means when someone lives to a ripe old age is…they don’t have major health problems.
That’s not a virtue, that’s just (mostly) luck, perhaps coupled with eating right and taking care of oneself.
It does not follow that older people are any wiser than anyone else. This is often one reason given why we all should automatically listen to and respect them.
No, quite often if a person is a foolish, selfish jerk when young, they will be a foolish, selfish jerk when they are older – unless there is a major life event that changed them in some way.
But even that isn’t unique to aging, as young people can also have major events that change them for the better.
What prompted this post was either the increasing loudness of seniors voicing their dissatisfaction with the world at large, or my increasing sensitivity to it. I’m not sure which it is, but I am fed up listening to it.
To those who might argue that these folks are upset because society treats them badly, I must disagree. I think it’s the other way around.
It’s because their bad attitudes seem so prevalent (because they are so loud) that this affects how the rest of the world treats them – and how it treats everyone else of a certain age, too.
It’s as if people expect us all to be jerks, by default.
I can’t blame them, really. If every 100 seniors you meet are cranky, bigoted, manipulative, rude, self-centered ninnies, then you might be inclined to assume the 101st one will be like that, too.
Plus, look at Bernie Sanders – loved and respected by many young people. They aren’t disrespectful to him. It’s because he is progressive, and has an attitude of acceptance of all people. If the issue of “disrespect” that older people complain about was due to prejudice against older people in general, Sanders would not have gotten as far as he has.
The “prejudice” lies in older people reinforcing stereotypes of “angry, bitter old people”.
Some examples of things entitled seniors do that make me cringe or make me angry are:
A. The insistence on (unconstitutional) organized prayer before lunch at senior centers. No, I don’t mean the spontaneous praying over food that many Christians do, I mean a situation where the paid staff person grabs a mic and asks, “Who wants to lead us in The Pledge and prayer?” This is quite off-putting to people who are not Christians, or to Christians who support the separation of church and state.
Since the senior centers here (and in most places) are funded by the Dept of Aging, which is a state (or commonwealth) entity of the US Administration on Aging, they receive tax dollars and, as such, cannot sponsor or favor one religion over another.
It’s not “a bunch of old dears wanting to express their love for their country and their God”, as so many right-wingers try to spin it.
No, it’s a bunch of old Christians who don’t see a thing wrong with taking over a federally funded organization and making “outsiders” (non-Christians) feel unwelcome.
Because, let me tell you, if you read about attempts to get these senior centers to come into compliance with the Constitution, you’ll see that the Christian seniors scream, yell, and play the age card. Some really pull out all the stops and play the “age plus veteran” card.
Then, you’re not only hating old people, you’re also un-American and attacking those who fought in wars.
Give me a break.
B. The racist, nationalistic, jingoistic, xenophobic (except regarding certain European countries such as Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Greece, and Italy), and homophobic views expressed by seniors in the centers, on the bus, or basically anywhere two or more of them congregate. They are loud about it and they don’t care, because they’re intimidating to younger folks, and they know this.
C. The stereotypical complaining about “how spoiled young people are”, how the “good old days” were so much better, how no one (except them, of course) has values or morals anymore, how “you can’t say Merry Christmas!” (oddly, I hear that one all year ’round), and how “young people are rude/do drugs/dress ‘funny’/don’t respect elders/(insert other complaint here) because they took prayer out of the schools”.
The basis of this is, they don’t understand the world now, and they don’t want to make any attempt to understand it. It’s easier to just hang out with other grumpy, uninformed seniors so they don’t have to challenge themselves in any way.
D. The frequent bashing of other religions, particularly Islam. (I don’t hear it about pagans but now that I wear a pentacle I suppose I might start hearing it more.) The frequent bashing of women, and the sexist jokes and comments about women in the public eye (Hillary, and others).
Confront someone about this and you’re “being politically correct”, “being too sensitive”, not understanding “how these people really are”.
E. The hostility towards technology, and towards the younger people who have jobs in that sector (I take personal umbrage at this, as all my 3 adult kids have technology jobs and college degrees). The weird attitude that these college-educated younger folks somehow diminish whatever work the senior did when young. The assertion that younger people are “lazy” because they can use cell phones and computers. The wrongheaded notion that younger people have fewer social skills because of technology.
I had one woman tell me that younger people can’t spell now because of cell phones and computers, and that conversing via text is somehow an insult to her (just because she doesn’t see the value in text messaging).
The world is changing. Either get with the program or lay off hating people just because you do not understand it or do not want to participate in it. Here’s an idea: ask a younger person to help you learn technological stuff. Most will be flattered you asked.
The attitude about younger people comes off as hateful and bitter. Here is a good example of a “baby boomer” complaining about millennials that illustrates this pretty well. It’s called “How Millennials are Ruining the Workforce” (Sandy Hingston, News + Opinion Section of the Philadelphia Magazine online, 1/8/2016).
Oh! A Pennsylvanian! How appropriate!
The comments/rebuttals by millennials, progressive baby boomers, and a few by gen x-ers are worth a read as well. Pity the comments are closed.
Just as we can see the phenomenon of certain groups of people who put whatever pops into their heads online for all to see, it’s evident that older folks do this live and in person.
Heck, at least you can turn off the computer. With these people, you don’t have any option to stop it (not any legal ones, anyway).
I could blame this on living in a conservative area (central Pennsylvania), except that Sanders won most of the counties around here. So, that doesn’t explain the phenomenon.
I could write a blog post on how older folks are marginalized by the rest of society, patronized or treated like children, and/or discriminated against in employment. These are real problems.
They are problems that need to be addressed. But does it ever occur to the majority of seniors that this is where their energy would be better spent, rather than used to rant and rave about people they perceive as being inferior to them?
Yes, we do have organizations such as the Grey Panthers, but they are not in most places. I did contact them, actually, long ago…and received no reply. Good job, folks.
Many senior organizations – the mainstream ones – meant to assist older people do not address the basic problems. They, too, are often patronizing towards older people, and that will drive the most openminded senior away – because who wants to be treated like that by an agency that is supposed to help you?
The entitled senior loves organizations like those, though, because (for one thing) they have lower expectations for senior behavior. They expect them to behave like spoiled children, and from what I have seen, this is exactly the behavior they get. No one challenges it, and seniors who are not like that leave the organization.
I don’t know what the answer to this entitlement problem is. I do know that I am getting really sick and tired of it.
This week’s weirdness comes from Snopes, and it’s a story about an ancient city being unearthed in someone’s backyard (“Elaborate Roman Villa Found in Man’s Backyard”, Brooke Binkowski, Snopes website, 4/18/16). The villa was built between 175 AD and 220 AD. Very cool.
Recommendations? I have been watching a lot of CNN and MSNBC, and reading websites mostly covering the presidential election, so I don’t have anything to recommend this week.
Be good. Be kind. Don’t be one of “those people”.
Your observations and assessments ring true. I am dealing with an aging parent who has some bigoted views that severely limits her socialization choices. I’m trying to analyze why she still clings to these preferences, even though I know a truthful and objective discussion with her on this problem will not change her feelings. So, surprise – she’s African-American, Black, Colored, Melanin-Enriched, or whatever the latest PC label is these days. Naturally she doesn’t think of herself or other Blacks exhibiting racist behavior as racists. And I believe I know why they think this way.
The distinction in my opinion is “offensive” vs. “defensive” racism. There may also be a socio-economic component as well, but that is a discussion for another day. My mother lived through some tough times and experienced racism first-hand on the train going to visit relatives in the south, from her Italian next-door neighbors, limited career choices, and exclusion from numerous public venues. The only way to live at least part of the promise of America was to stay within these de-facto and often legally proscribed boundaries and create the best life for themselves that they could. My mother, as well as my grandmother graduated from college; both were school teachers. My mother spent a great deal of effort trying to prove to “Whitey” that Black people were just as good as anyone else. She and my grandmother succeeded magnificently in this effort. This is the “core” of defensive racism. On the other hand, offensive racism can be as obvious as the KKK and as subtle and as inocuous as not getting that promotion despite being far more qualified than a white, or even now, Asian work colleague.
So, is defensive racism more acceptable than offensive racism? Based on incidents like those that occurred in Ferguson and Baltimore, I would say the answer is yes, at least in the eyes of the liberal media and those whose spines soften in this pathetic environment of political correctness. Both behaviors are wrong and both are equally difficult, if not impossible, to extricate from the pysche of defensive and offensive racists, albeit for different reasons. Offensive racists more than likely cling to their bigotry because it gives them a sense of superiority and entitlement and is therefore narcissistic. Defensive racists, especially the older ones, cling to their racism as a vestigial survival mechanism – one may forget what someone did to them, but they’ll never forget the way it made them feel, so the saying goes. Both behaviors are spiritually toxic in my opinion because they construct unnecessary barriers to exercising the only absolute power every human being possesses – the power to love everyone unconditionally.
Thank you very much for your enlightening comments. I would have to say that I am in agreement with what you wrote – that there is a huge difference in expecting certain behavior by a group of people based on race, and systematic and sometimes unconscious racism by the dominant racial group. That difference, of course, is power. And it can be subtle these days, so subtle that I do hear a lot of whites express surprise (whether mock or not, sometimes I can’t tell) when racist behavior is pointed out to them – and it doesn’t even have to be their behavior!
Clearly, as you pointed out, until white people understand how they benefit just by the basis of their skin, and then begin to see it on a daily basis, there won’t be much change for them. Part of the reason is them taking it personally so that they don’t even hear what is being said to them, and that’s unfortunate. They personally may treat everyone well, but that’s not the point when discussing society as a whole – for instance, I live in a predominantly white small town in PA, and my landlady is a Democrat and a liberal, but I am fairly sure she would have discouraged me from renting from her had I been African-American. I think that because, in my limited contact with her, she was quite concerned if I had “friends from Philadelphia”, which around here is code for “African-American friends who are drug dealers”.
As for older people who have suffered so much under racism, I can’t imagine what it’s like to face daily discrimination and worse, because I haven’t really experienced things like that – my experiences as a left wing pagan are like wisps of smoke in a world where racism and genocide are burning the world down. But I can listen, and read, and try to understand. Your comment is greatly appreciated.