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aging stereotypes, ageism and content creation

Image [cropped] by Andrew Neel on Unsplash.

It’s a legitimate strategy: targeting your content to a publication so you get published.

Let’s say I want to write about creating a website to get more clients.

I target a legal publication. I tell a story about a lawyer who revised her website. I explain some of the changes she made, using examples from legal professionals. For instance, when talking about “services,” I might emphasize “practice areas.”

For an audience of life coaches and consultants, I talk about “building a tribe” and “getting more clients.” I’d write about get-acquainted calls and consultations.

What doesn’t make sense is targeting a publication designed for “seniors” or “women over 50” with an article that could apply to any age group. I get the impression the author has already written the article and lazily adds a phrase for pseudo-targeting.

For example, I’ve seen articles like

“How to apply eyeliner when you’re over 60.”
“Why seniors need to eat healthfully and avoid sugar sodas”
“How to let go of bad relationships when you’re over 60”

or even

“The 10 best sex toys for seniors”

The truth is, there’s not much difference in taking these actions whether you are twenty-six or sixty. The articles rarely explain what aspect of aging influences behavior and outcomes.

Is there something about your eyelid that changes as you get older?
Doesn’t everyone need to eat healthfully? Should a 35-year-old eat processed food and drink sugar sodas?
Should anyone tolerate a bad relationship in the twenty-first century?

Very few outcomes are completely age-related.

Take this article on the 12 best sex toys for seniors.  The features mentioned – ease of use, safe materials – would apply to anyone buying a sex toy.

Why assume seniors are buying their first sex toy? And if they are, why not target the article to first-time buyers?

People get more different from one another – not less different – as they age.  As I say in my book, geriatricians have a saying: if you’ve seen one 80-year-old, you’ve seen one 80-year-old.” One eighty-year-old might be tiptoeing around a circle in a gentle exercise class; another will be running marathons. One will enjoy solitude and singleness; another will be on her third marriage.

As far as I can tell, the only thing you have in common after age 50 (maybe even 45) is you’re subjected to stereotypes and age discrimination. The specifics of your experience will vary.

But you can expect to shake your head at least some of the time when you see an article claiming to represent your experience based on your age.

If I had to pick one essential skill for  all “seniors,” it would be swearing. Very handy when you come up against stubborn stereotypes, generalizations and outright lies.