ELDER MUSIC: Jessye Norman
2014 Medicare and Social Security Trustees' Reports

Crabby Old Lady on Youthful Stupidity

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Over the weekend, I played hooky a bit from the work I should have been doing to spend time lost in a couple of books. One of them, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes was a re-read that was even more engrossing and more enlightening about what it means to get old than the first two times I read it.

I have added it (the only novel so far) to my list of Best Books on Aging. It needs some further updating which I will try to get around to soon. But if you haven't looked at it - the list - you might be interested.

We all say stupid things when we are young. What Crabby Old Lady objects to, however, is that those who are too young to have accumulated much useful knowledge, information and experience are deliberately allowed to embarrass themselves in public.

Take this story from Huffington Post titled Six Signs You're Aging Well. Let Crabby stop right there and ask what “aging well” means?

The generous answer is that the story is about being healthy but Crabby was pretty sure, when she clicked the link, that thought would prove to be too generous.

And so it was - revealing a list that could be compiled only by someone with zero knowledge, let alone understanding, of old people. Among the six signs:

Your pants have a zipper (instead of an elastic waist)
You left your big-button phone in the 1990s where it belongs
You have an online checking account

When Crabby checked to see who writes such patronizing claptrap she found this biography:

“Yagana Shah is Huff/Post50's associate editor. She received her master's in journalism from the University of Maryland and interned with USA Today. Her interests include health news, bucket lists, and the British royal family.”

Do you suppose it was Arianna Huffington's idea to give a kid working her first paying job the geriatric beat? Is it Arianna Huffington who approves this kind of age-contemptuous drivel? And does she know that this is only the most recently egregious of such belittling contempt for old people that regularly appears on Huffpost (among sometimes better stuff)?

Crabby wanted to believe the story (well, that's inflating it; it's really just a listicle) resulted from someone's lapse in judgment, that a busy editor let it slip through. But when Crabby saw Ms. Shah's previous story - Five Sure Fire Signs You're Aging Too Fast - there was no misunderstanding that it wasn't deliberate.

Just the title, in this case, is demeaning and wait until you get a load of those five signs:

Being More forgetful
Dry mouth
Dull, Uneven Skin Tone
Bloodshot/Red Eyes

As though only old people suffer these common indignities.

Ms. Shah has advice for elders about what to do for these conditions some of which she has cribbed from Dr. Mehmet Oz - you know, that paragon of trained physicians who promotes miracle weight loss potions.

Crabby feels bad taking down this young woman. Well, only a little. Ms. Shah lists a master's degree in journalism which confers – or should – some degree of knowledge that is absent in her advice columns for old people.

What Crabby mostly feels bad about is that this young woman, apparently due to a lack of adult supervision on the job, is made to look foolish so publicly.

But Crabby feels worse that existing prejudices about old people are reinforced. Thanks to such thoughtless ignorance, it will take longer than usual for young readers to realize there is just as much good living to be had with wrinkles, constipation and even dull skin as when one is young.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary Mack: Endless Bars of Soap


Yes, that article is drivel. Hope is assigned to another beat very soon. Do you think she will learn about your blog on her ageist writing? Hope so.

Belittling people in our bracket for having "big button" phones truly takes the cake. I have a smart phone and can text and play with apps with the best of them, BUT it's the "old people" cell with big buttons. I'm staying up with technology thanks to BIG buttons. That's what counts.

A degree in journalism means NOTHING. I currently know five 'youngsters' with degrees in communication. None of them can write well, and they have a very hard time speaking to others. I have edited the written work of one of these 'degreed' individuals and have been aghast at how badly she writes. Here is one more to add to that list of bad 'communicators.'

The thing about growing old is that, you can't help it. It just happens. And, like anything else that gets old, the parts start to wear out, more with some than others. Although, we can delay the ravages of wear and tear for a while, eventually it will catch up with you. The way to deal with old age is not to ignore it, but don't let it become the all-encompassing part of your life. In Addition, as far as young peoples views of seniors are concerned it has always and will always be that way. To which I say, "let them have their fun while it lasts." They'll be shopping for orthopedic shoes soon enough.

She better watch out because that list of hers on aging too fast sounds an awful lot like the side effects of most drugs. She could be aging too fast herself very soon.

Thank you Bruce Cooper for having a laid back attitude about aging comments. And doesn't "aging well" just mean the body parts are holding up? And, yeah, I'm old but I don't get bent out of shape by comments such as those in the article that Ronni bemoans. There are more interesting things to think and talk about.

"Crabby feels bad taking down this young woman. Well, only a little."

Glad you did. Someone needed to.

Today Journalism and the entertainment industry are one in the same. Bill O'Reilly admittedly said so. It's all about "selling tickets", or newspapers, and advertising.

Believe it or not, we are in the age of believe what you want to believe - or you can simply change the channel.

Excellent comments here, to which I can add nothing other than to weigh in also on the number of young people with impressive sounding degrees who apparently did not undergo anything remotely rigorous to get them. It's too bad so many are being left with huge debts for them, too.

What a lot of claptrap. I've written to tell her so, and why.

This is an excellent critique of another stupid article. Seems to me that quality, research and even spelling in the media have diminished in my lifetime. (Gee, is that a sign of aging?)I happened to spot that title and passed it right by. There are so many more enlighting reading to explore; why waste time on this drivel? What the h...does she know about my aging well? She better learn because you can't stop Mother Nature!

I'd like to email her too Pamela Lady Luz....what address did you find for her?

I went back to read her first article on aging too fast and found nothing that was not true. Most comments in it seem to end with checking with your doctor. She may have even noticed some signs in herself. And I am more advanced than Ronni in the age category. (I was embarrassed, for her, regarding her listing the Royal family as one of her interests.)

Gaea - follow the link in Ronni's post to take you to the article. Her email address is in that.

You tell 'er, Crabby! And I
recommend Barnes' latest book,
"Levels of Life", which contains (among other themes) a shattering and brilliant memoir of the loss of his wife. This should be required reading for anyone who has bereaved friends or who is apt to face that transition.

Writing is a disappearing skill--many of today's "writers" think that if what they produce passes the grammar and spellcheck features in Word, it's all good. The young woman who wrote the subject article is probably saddled with student loan debt--and for what? She somehow managed to land a good job, but I wonder how long she'll keep it at the rate she's alienating HuffPost's older readers? She'll be hearing from me in addition to Pamela and Gaea. Bruce C. is right, too--aging just happens, and it will to Ms. Shah, too.

With a master's and an internship behind her, Ms. Shah must be about 24. When I was 24 (42 years ago), I had a six-year-old son, a mortgage, and a career teaching high school English.

I was not a kid. I did not need adult supervision because I was busy supplying adult supervision to my son and students.

Please, can't we just say Ms. Shah was wrong, or represents an unenlightened segment of the population, without trivializing her with ageist terminology? We can't be respected if we don't respect.

Ronni, your posts are often so dead-on about the power of language to diminish. All of us should remember that for ourselves...and for others.

Gee, I didn't know that constipation was a sign that I was aging too fast. I suffered from that malady when I was young and stupid and didn't eat right. I no longer have that problem because I'm old and wise and eat a proper diet.

The fact that Ms.
Shah cribbed from Dr. Oz shows how little her Masters Degree has helped her. I suggest she stops writing about aging and switches to fiction.

Some younger people value elders who have the same interests that they do. That is, if you are like me, you are cool; if you are not like me, you are not cool. I would like to share with Ms.Shah the benefits of my reverse bucket list. I never again have to wear high heels, go on a roller coaster, or worry if I will marry, have children or have meaningful work.

Arianna Huffington sold the Huffington Post a few years ago. Does not have any control over any of it anymore.

Although I agree with the critique of the superficiality of Ms. Shah's writing, I am uncomfortable with labeling it the "youthful" stupidity of a "young" woman. Young is a descriptor as is old. Anyone of any age could be as off base.

I agree with Deborah Rogers that, "We can't be respected if we don't respect."

I do, however, wonder why a serious subject would be assigned to someone whose "...interests include health news, bucket lists, and the British royal family.”

I think that I'll file the silly listings away with the silly articles on "How to Please Your Man" that used to be found in the pages of "women's magazines".

Actually, Arianna Huffington has been editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media - which includes the Huffington Post website - since the sale to AOL in 2011.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)