The sixth annual Gnomedex conference took place last week in Seattle. This event would have escaped Crabby Old Lady’s notice but for Cowtown Pattie of Texas Trifles who emailed regarding Jeremy Zawodny, the leader of a “bitch session” at the conference which was described in part at the noded blog thusly:
“Low point of the day was the discussion led by Jeremy Zawodny which came across as a profiling of ‘older people’ as unable to operate the internet or a computer without massive browser rewrites or something…”
- noded, 2 July 2006
Bad enough, especially from the representative of one of the biggest, most important tech companies in the world, but Crabby had not attended so she thought to let it go. Then, she read this comment left by a reader named Joe :
“The reason the internet appears to be younger-person centric is because older members of society haven't felt a need to be hooked up. And when an older person asks me about the internet, I don't have a reason why it's important for them. Useful, sure. But important? I don't think so.”
Crabby doesn’t know who Joe is, but she is flummoxed as to why he would believe the internet is not important to elders. And who says “older members of society haven’t felt a need to be hooked up”? Cite your sources, Joe. Crabby wants to know why you consider her and others of her age to be out of touch with the interests of mainstream America.
Both of these men are exhibiting blatant ageism and Crabby fears neither of them recognizes it in himself which is, of course, what makes age prejudice so insidious – no one thinks it’s as important as sexism or racism.
So let’s give the statements of these two men the standard TGB Bias Test by replacing the word “older” with “black”:
Zawodny via noded: “…profiling of ‘black people’ as unable to operate the internet or a computer without massive browser rewrites or something…”
Joe: “…black members of society haven't felt a need to be hooked up. And when a black person asks me about the internet, I don't have a reason why it's important for them.
Imagine the ruckus if these two rewritten statements had been spoken at the conference or written on the blogs where they actually appeared but with that one-word difference.
Jeremy Zawodny is identified as an employee of Yahoo! and as Yahoo!’s "top blogger" – whatever that means. Crabby Old Lady believes that if Mr. Zawodny had made these same statements about blacks, he would no longer be in the employ of Yahoo!
But he keeps his job because no one at Yahoo! or anywhere else takes bigotry against elders seriously. Mr. Zawodny is, apparently, a big deal in the technology blogosphere and Crabby Old Lady is pained at how telling it is that no A-listers in that community have condemned Mr. Zawodny's bigotry.
Just so no one thinks Crabby Old Lady is entirely humorless on the topic of aging:
Gnomedex, where this latest example of nasty ageism in the tech world was exhibited, is the brainchild of Chris Pirillo (not be tarred with the same brush as Mr. Zawodny). Together with Brad Fitzpatrick, Chris has just launched Blaugh! The Unofficial Comic of the Blogosphere. Today's entry, titled "A New MySpace Generation", gave Crabby Old Lady a much-needed morning laugh, particularly after the above. Congratulations, Chris and Brad. Crabby will be a regular reader.