A current Next Avenue article argues that a core reason ageism continues to dog our culture, even as Boomers edge into their 70s, is that too few embrace one of the hottest trends – telling personal stories, a la The Moth or StoryCorps.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t describe the Next Avenue article. Sorry to say, it was a major disappointment. Seeing the title & subheading – How to Change the Narrative of Aging in America; a 2917 Influencer in Aging says documenting getting older could lessen ageism – had this legacy-building cheerleader pumped! And how true, that documenting, sharing our life stories & current day experiences WILL help reduce the ageism that still pervades our American culture.
If only… Turns out, the article’s ONE & ONLY reference to anything resembling legacy writing a al Nancy Murdoch was the opening sentence – If I could change one thing about aging in America, it would be that my fellow boomers would seize what is a historic opportunity by compellingly documenting the joyful experience that is getting older. Through their numbers and influence, the remaining 65 million boomers are in an ideal position to change the narrative of aging in America.
The noise you hear is me banging my head against the wall. The author could have written an exceptional piece on continuous care retirement communities starting their own Moth-like groups or recording stories a al Storycorps, podclubs using their listens to inspire their own story telling, groups writing collective stories for display or personal entries in private journals. He didn’t – the rest of the article is about how our current her & now is potentially the BEST time, in the history of our nation, to be 65+. Seriously?
Bottom line – the author is spot-on that being over a certain age (which seems to start as young as 40 by some standards) would be less stigmatized if more oldsters elders ancients wrote about their LIFE experiences. They’d would provide youngers with a road map of what to expect & a connoisseur’s guide to living. It would broaden the awareness & appreciation of life’s layers richness substance.
The author, Lawrence R. Samuel, PhD is a highly respected psychologist, the founder of Boomers 3.0, working with businesses & organizations to “create meaningful relationships with baby boomers in their third act of life.”
The light dawns. Dr. Samuel’s looking at the lower end of the upward aging demographic (he’s 61), at least a full decade younger than our clients. His opening is spot on, but the rest of the article leaves his first sentence a stand-alone, not the start of a related conversation. And leaves me silently aaaarrrrrrggggghhhhing, because it’s a conversation that needs to be shared, and often!
Not complaining about Next Avenue’s advocacy of legacy writing – this just turned out to be way different than its description. If I want to see another article on the importance of legacy writing on individual families & the larger culture, maybe I better get writing!