Sunday, February 10, 2008

Preoccupation with Age

In two months I will be sixty years old. I was born April 24, 1948. In 1970, at the age of twenty-two, I came to Winnipeg. On December 20 1971, when I was twenty-three, my son was born. In 1985, at the age of thirty-seven, I joined the Winnipeg Free Press. In 2004, at the age of seventy-eight, my mother died.

Lately I've found myself wondering why age is a fixation. Why am I so constantly aware that with each passing day I'm closer to death?

The other day, while reading the New York Times I found the answer. The media is preoccupied with age.

Once a week the New York Times emails me all the articles published that week about writing. As I read. . Author so and so, 44, has had whatever published. . Mr. so and so, 45, after a six year dry spell . . . every article mentioned someone's age.

I clicked a few other English media sites:

Here's a sampling of articles that ran that day in my home town paper, the Winnipeg Free Press:
  • regarding the democratic race in the United States I read nine paragraphs without the mention of anyone's age, and then. . ."At the Obama rally, Lisa Jones, 32, said" . . .I don't know why her age was important, and I don't know why 32 is significant . .. is the point she's young and for Obama, or is the point Obama is beginning to capture an older demographic?
  • in paragraph ten of the same article it was noted that Hillary is 60, Obama 46.
  • Paris Hilton, 26 year old heiress says, "Harvard is hot."
  • Heath Ledger was 28 when he died, his daughter is 2
  • Louis Sapina is 83 and wants to die
  • Elizabeth Buhler is 109 and Manitoba's oldest living citizen since 110 year old Mary Ann Scoles passed on.

O-kay so the New York Times and the Winnipeg Free Press, both well established institutions in their locales, have decided age is always worth noting.
At after scanning several articles I took heart that there was no mention of anyone's age. I thought I was reading articles in a media that did not appear to use age as a way of describing people. I was almost through a highly critical column about columnist Maureen Dawd when I felt age had subliminally crept into the article...apparently Dawd's writing is antiquated and can only be enjoyed by 80 year old shut-ins. Continuing their put-down of the New York Times it claims NYT readers are a million years old.

Gawker goes on to another story, ABC's Sam Donaldson just learned about Perez Hilton and his web site - no age mentioned - but Perez is young and Sam is old. Gawker doesn't seem to directly mention age - it's just young and hip - traditional media is old and faded. Young good - old not so good.

Next I clicked onto - seniors need different cell phones than the rest of the population. Other than that one ad Slate doesn't appear to mention age.

My last click took me to the Huffington Report. I read the author bios and not one mention of age or date of birth simply what the writers have done to develope an expertise that makes reading their blogs worthwhile.
Hmmm . . . I think I'll click over to then search Arianna Huffington, I wonder how old she is?

No comments: