There exists a weird standard around people of a certain age. For example, just the other day I was talking with my family over Easter dinner and my grandmother (who is quite liberal – She likes Metallica and broke her knee playing basketball, for goodness sake) brusquely stated that my mother was too old to have pink hair. Well then. I promptly followed up with, “Yes she can! She can do whatever she wants.”
Grandma – “No she can’t.” *
The conversation carried on after that to other topics, but I didn’t like hearing such blatant disapproval of freedom (just general freedom). Sure. People may have looked at my mother like she was too old, but that’s just because society says it’s inappropriate to have rainbow hair after one says adios to his or her twenties. Complete rubbish.
But…this is not going to be a rant about the various constraints that are place on “older” folk. No. But it was this thought that started me down the rabbit hole that is consciousness. From this thought I thought about that one Dear Book Nerd podcast where they were talking about a couple that wasn’t matching up in their reading tastes, and the male counterpart was wondering why the female only wanted to read young adult books, yadah yadah yadah … So, I started to think about why “older” folk frown upon people who don’t read in their age group. And how are age groups defined? Who decides these parameters?
Personally, I think anything that gets a person reading is FANTASTIC. So what if the demographic that the author and publisher had in mind was for 11-13 year olds? After doing some light research to gain more opinions than my own on this matter, I found that 1) this may not be as big of an issue as I first thought it was, and 2) though it’s not as BIG as I originally thought, it still is a relevant conversation topic.
The base of the issue goes back to the common separation of age groups. This is a fairly newish event since it started in the 1900s. But boy oh boy did it help and hurt various aspects of everyone’s life since then. On one hand the separation makes sense, especially when the psychological perspectives are thrown into the mix. Some topics and information is not appropriate for certain people of a certain age. Yeah…. that being said… I’m clearly referring to younger age groups in that particularly word sentence, but I am really concerned with older age groups.
I read a quick but fascinating article from Psychology Today by Steven Mintz, a professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin (go Long horns!!), called “Generation Divided: How America Became Segregated By Age.” In this article, Mintz provides a brief overview of the who, what, where, when, and why we Americans decided we needed to further segregate ourselves into another category. But there was one thing he said that I felt related to the topic I am discussing. He comments on how age parameters can be a good social grouping, but “It [age groups/separation] can also be coercive: Telling you what you can and can’t do based on your age.”Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Age can be extremely hindering. It can make a grown man or woman feel like they’re hiding a porn magazine in public rather than Eleanor and Park or a book from the Percy Jackson series. Age garners ugly looks from those that consider themselves far to sophisticated to be reading books meant for children. Age … well it can be that nagging judgmental voice in our heads when we’re 21 years old and really want to read The School for Good and Evil but don’t because it was written for middle schoolers. The struggle is real. But… Does it have to be a struggle?
*This is not a post meant to be hateful or critical towards my grandma. She is an awesome lady. This particular conversation just happened to be on the fore-front of my mind.