- prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age.
So… With my last article, I ruffled a few feathers on the younger side of things… Now let’s see if I can do it again. To aid me in this endeavor, I have garnered the help from a friend whom has more than a few resounding tete-a-tetes with me. Alexia Ashford. To that end, I thought I would present this as more of a “conference style” with two “guest speakers”. Hereafter, my sections will simply be headed by “Z:” while Alexia’s sections will be headed by “A:” to which I am JOKINGLY going to call this “conference style” writing, “Alpha and Omega on Ageism”…
Z: Ageism is a VERY real and present danger in the GVC, however, don’t just think that it flows towards the OLDER members of the community alone. Ageism is far more sinister in its subtlety than that. Because of the influx of “seekers”, “writers”, “investigative journalists”, “vampirologists”, and even the newly awakened/fledgling/noobies several of the OLDER members in the community are just plain cranky and burnt out, it seems. They treat EVERY new person coming into the community as if they were little more than a nuisance complete with absolute disregard and disrespect for even the simplest of questions.
A: Ageism is not something that should be tolerated in any community. All members have something of value, something to contribute. The relationship between the different generations should be a symbiotic one. We all benefit from each other.
Z: Yes. Younger members of the community have felt the lash of ageism. People act as if they are bothering them with their questions and queries, instead of attempting to mentor them so that they receive good, quality information. We ALL know that there is some true bullshit and oogie boogie shamalama dingdong teachings out there in the GVC. We know that the information out there is multitudinous in its variations and yet, when a new person comes in, instead of guiding, mentoring, fostering, whatever fucking term you would like to put on it, we FAIL to step up.
A: Ageism TOWARD the younger generation is another thing we must be aware of and vigilant to stamp out. It is the job of a leader to step forward and support our younger members where possible. I have noticed a distinct condescension in some spaces. I’ve seen people of my generation called ‘brats’, with nothing to worry about except ‘finding the right shade of makeup’. We must remember that, especially in the current political climate, it is imperative that minorities do not stand divided. We must build each other up, not tear each other down. As fresh faces to the community, the guidance that a seasoned mind can provide is incredibly useful. Guidance from a seasoned sang and the history of sangs in the VC has helped massively in defining where I go with my own personal projects.
Z: I AM being general on purpose as to the terms of the Grumpy Vampire guidelines. We point out TRAITS not point fingers.
I am not speaking about those people who, when presented with information, who simply REFUSE to even bother reading it and then continue to ask the same questions over and over again ad nauseum… I’m also not talking about those people that you have to EXPLAIN things over and over again because they just don’t seem to grasp the simplest of concepts. Nor am I speaking of the person who “interviews” the community members until we feel like setting up recorded messages with all of the information that they’ve ever asked, which also comes over and over again, ad nauseum…
I’m speaking about those “newly awakened” who are ACTUALLY attempting to understand their condition. Why is it that we, as a community, complain about stagnation yet stomp on the very fabric of growth that comes with enthusiasm? Or a genuine needs to find THEIR particular truth in all of this? Or the genuine desire to find where they fit in and how they can work to make the community a better place?
A: As with all things, if a community doesn’t adapt, it dies. Younger people are a generation just starting to come into their own. For the longest time, I’ve heard “I can’t do this, the Elders won’t let me”. To me, that has never been the case. All leaders, young or old, respect action. You don’t need permission from members with more tenure to follow your passion and try to see your vision realized. A fresh perspective and passion is what we bring. WE are the generation that will inherit the fruits of that labour.
Question: Why are you hard on the younger/older members of the GVC?
Z: I’m hard on young ones, I know. I don’t take the shit I used to take when I was in my 30s and EARLY 40s, however, when a particular young member of the community makes it past my bullshit-o-meter, I endeavor to give them support. If they attempt a project that I have seen come and go 50 times already, I tell them why I feel it failed. I never say “Don’t attempt that, it’s been done to death and failed every time.” I LITERALLY tell them, “This has been tried before and failed. Here are the reasons that *I* saw for the failure.” More than a few people have misread what I was attempting to do, and that’s OK. I will endeavor to continue this trend.
A: I think the biggest reason I have been hard on some people in the community is a lack of tolerance for adaptation and change. This is the case for me, especially. I came into the community with an uncommon perspective and one that was, at the time, controversial. I faced a lot of pushback for wanting a point of distinction between blood drinker who were secular and believed their need to be purely a physical phenomenon. I think that the established leader should do whatever they can to lend support to worthwhile projects and cultivate a culture of innovation and idea generation. Creating new projects is difficult. There can sometimes be condescension or outright hostility. This isn’t always the case, and it is far from everyone. My greatest supporters have also come from the older community members.
Question: How do we fix the ageism in the GVC?
Z: We have to start changing the way we respond to or deal with new people asking questions. ANY new person asking questions. At least until they prove they only wanting to be spoon-fed information instead of actually digging for answers when they are pointed to information that has been garnered on websites or a group’s “file” section. Change begins with RECOGNIZING when someone is being targeted for their age in EITHER direction and stepping up to correct the situation by both responding in a decent manner to whomever is asking the question and calling out the shitty attitude of the person answering the question… Granted there will be times where a person feels bad, however, most people, when you point their attitude will offer an apology. (In the way of receiving apologies… Be gracious. It takes great courage for a person to admit they’ve screwed up.)
For real change to fight ageism, the answer is more simple than people tend to give credit. Mentors are needed on the side of the older members of the GVC while ACTUAL students/seekers are needed on the side of the younger members of the community… It is a far more simple a solution that seems to be increasingly difficult to happen in the generational gaps that we find ourselves in. Instead of slapping questions down, even when we’ve answered it time and again, we should answer the question and continue to point out where the information can be found and read.
A: Change is nigh impossible when we are divided. We should take care not to forget how we got here. We should not scoff at our seniors. Their contribution and hard work laid the foundation which allows us the benefits which we reap today. These are our founders. They have been through years upon years of successes, failures. Despite what we may think, very few ideas are original. Our tenured members have seen it before. They have valuable guidance and wisdom with regards to what went wrong, how it was received, and how we might do better.
Change requires action, and action begets respect. If you want to start an initiative, just do it. No one is stopping you. There are so many important things that need addressing and bickering among ourselves talking about the ‘old gits’ or the ‘stupid brats’ isn’t productive, helpful, and is not conducive to leadership. Further, it is toxic and spreads dissent and hate in an already small and fractured community. Let’s work together, shall we?
Question: What are the causes for ageism?
Z: Honestly, the primary cause of ageism to the older members of the GVC are that many people in the younger generation forget that things had to start somewhere and had to be started BY someone. Many forget that there ARE no new things under the Sun. Things have been tried, time and again, and have all failed for one reason or another. Listen when someone tells you, “this has been tried and THIS is where I think it went wrong.” Don’t automatically think, “well that was then and this is now… I wasn’t on such-n-such project back then.”
When it comes to the ‘old farts’ of the community… STOP. Take a damned breath. Don’t automatically drop into “is it this fucking shit again” and roll from there. Sorry. Not sorry. We’ve all seen those “Elders” of the community who simply attempt to bully the younger members of the community simply because they don’t feel like answering a damned question. Or those that attempt to judge a person based on the WAY they asked a question… How are the young and newly awakened supposed to learn ANYTHING, if they keep getting shut down by the older members of the community. It’s almost as if some of the older members of the GVC expect the newer members to automatically be up to date on more than 40 years of information and their myriad of shifts… *shrug* Ludicrous, at best. Damaging to the community, at worst.
A: I think it is for two primary reasons. One, it is indicative of the larger political context, right now. There is a large gap between the old and the young. Issues such as being LGBTQ, guns, feminism, sexual liberty. Generations don’t necessarily define someone’s political views. There are conservative youths and progressive elders. Overall, though, there is a big shift on these core issues that the more someone looks at differences in age.
Secondly, I don’t think the divide in a community context is necessarily due to a generational difference. I’ve been at the forefront of the split between one fraction of a community into a smaller, self-sustained one. I think this divide is caused by the emergence of two different types of community. Some are frustrated at the emergence of Courts in every neck of the woods by people who haven’t been around for long. These are mostly of the younger generation. As they are so visible, it can be easy to misconstrue this as ‘the younger generation’ when, in fact, it is a small segment. I think the younger generation get upset that they feel their projects are not supported and that they get unnecessary grief from their elders. Huddling in cliques without listening to other perspectives will never be beneficial for any community.
Zaar’s final thoughts:
As I said before, ageism is insidious in the very subtlety that it hides into. It enfolds itself into the guise of everything from “you can’t tell me what I can and cannot do!” to “why don’t these damned young one’s listen to a damned thing we tell them?”. It flows through our communities with the ease of a Summer’s breeze and MUST be fought. Just don’t automatically jump to the conclusion that you are being targeted by ageism. Seriously stop to analyze what is going on around you to see if you are just experiencing an issue of miscommunication, or if this person is this way to EVERY person (younger to older/older to younger). If they ARE that way with everyone… Don’t put up with it. Call it out.