Well, if you could consider commenting on a Facebook status as a conversation….
I rarely to speak to my mother, because, well, she’s a rather silly woman. She doesn’t listen well, believes only what she wants to be true, and is really self-centered. I could probably go on, but it’s hardly worth the effort.
Never mind that we’re poles apart religiously, politically, and a host of other “allys”; she’s very, very liberal, but always sounds as though she’s simply parroting others’ opinions. I don’t think I’ve heard very many original ideas from her, at least not in the last couple decades.
For example, she made much of President Obama’s candidacy and campaign, yet seemed to give little actual thought to his background and experience. She became overly-involved with my son’s issues, and adamantly refused to listen to anyone other than him, even to discounting and ignoring the facts.
Back to today’s interaction: she posted, as her status on Facebook, a small rant on her local paper’s use of the word “elderly”. Now, even I would agree that a 70-year-old should probably not be called “elderly” – maybe “aged” would be a better choice. Semantics, yes, but valid.
Of course, I’m 45; Mom is almost 69. Naturally, she doesn’t consider herself elderly, but I wouldn’t either. At 45, I suppose I’d be “middle-aged” – not a fan of that label, but I am certainly in the middle of my life, hence the terminology.
Mom went on to say that using the word “elderly” was discriminatory and offensive and obsolete – in other words, not politically correct.
Are we to become a world of nothing? Everyone the same, no description? Shouldn’t we also stop using words such as “toddler” or “teenager” or “young adult”? By this criterion, even using words like “short” or “tall” should be banned. Should I be offended if I’m referred to as middle-aged? I might not like it, but too bad, that’s what I am.
Here’s the silly part: she also said that some 90-year-olds weren’t elderly – what, then, are they? I’m pretty sure that the only thing left after “elderly” is “dead”. They may not think of themselves as such, but they surely are – elderly, that is, not dead.
She also mentioned, as reference to obsolescence, other “gender-specific and ethnic terms”. She didn’t give examples, but seriously? What are we supposed to call a “man” or a “woman” or a “German” or an “American”? Really? Should we all become genderless clones, nonsexual entities of no country or culture or ethnicity?
Yes, let us bow to political correctness.
Oh, and Mom, if you read this – which I doubt – please note that Elderhostel did not change their name, only the name of their program component. And, while you’re writing letters to the Post, you might want to write to Elderhostel too. In the section on their webpage, where they’re talking about their new name, they urge readers to “turn up their speakers” to hear the pronunciation. Sounds a lot like, according to the way your mind works, they are talking down to older people, assuming they can’t hear or can’t pronounce a simple word. You might want to point that out to them.
One last thought: “elders” were historically the older, wiser members of a tribe. It’s certainly not denigrating to refer to one as an elder, or “elderly”. Of course, in the case of some older folks, wisdom may be implied, but certainly is not assured. Some few merely get carried away with following the herd.