This Chair Rocks: How Ageism Warps Our View of Long Lives - Ashton Applewhite

January 30, 2013
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

ASHTON APPLEWHITE is a writer and journalist who’s been thinking out loud about late life since 2007 in blog form at Staying Vertical. During this period, she’s become a Knight Fellow, a New York Times Fellow, an Age Boom Fellow (Columbia University School of Journalism) and a fellow at the Yale Law School’s Information Society Project. Ashton is the voice of Yo Is This Ageist and has been called an expert on ageism by the New York Times.

Ashton is interested in why Americans are so ambivalent about the prospect of longer lives. She was too, until she learned more. It turns out that people are happiest at the beginnings and the ends of their lives. That the vast majority of Americans over 65 live independently. That older people are less depressed than the young or middle-aged. That the older people get, the less afraid they are of dying.

Why do these facts surprise so many? Because ageism - internalized and in the culture at large - obscures all but the most negative messages about life after 65 (or 50, or just aging past youth), with disastrous personal and political implications. In the 20th century, the civil rights and women’s movements raised our awareness of racism and sexism. It’s high time to do so around discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of age.  Her 40-minute talk, “Old Age Sucks and It’s Going to Be Great”, proposes an alternative to worrying about getting old: wake up to the ageist messages that frame two thirds of our lives as decline, cheer up, and push back.