Since my TED talk went up I’ve been inundated with letters from all kinds of people: olders and youngers, in the US and around the world, frustrated and exhilarated, offering solidarity and support. My current favorite arrived yesterday from a gerontologist who wrote, “I’ve been barking up this tree all my life . . . and so honor your revolution. I’m here with you, sister.” It made my day. Thanks to each of you.
Almost everyone is asking how to join the movement and help it grow. Here’s a whole menu of options. Pick one or two that fit. Mix and match. Make them your own.
- All change starts between our ears: how do you feel about your own aging? What messages have you absorbed over the years? Whose interests do they serve? How do you think and talk about older people, and getting older? Are any of your close friends much older or younger? Warning: plenty of No shit/Oh shit moments ahead—confronting unconscious bias is uncomfortable. It’s also liberating. Once you start seeing ageism in the culture you see it everywhere, and that genie never goes back in the bottle.
- Start a consciousness-raising group. This powerful tool catalyzed the women’s movement. When women came together to share their “personal” problems, they realized that they were up against political problems that required collective action. Download my free guide, Who Me, Ageist? How to Start a Consciousness-raising Group here. If starting a group feels like too big a lift, bring some people together and use the questions at the end of the guide as discussion-starters.
- Learn about age and age bias. My book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, contains every smart idea I’ve had or come across. It’s not free but it’s not expensive, and it has over 100 5-star reviews on Amazon. The last chapter, “Occupy Age,” is packed with practical suggestions for thinking and acting in ways that will bring us closer to an all-age-friendly society.
- Find your tribe—in the world and on social media. Start or join a group that’s dedicated to age equality. It doesn’t matter whether you read together, hike together, party together, or all of the above. Movements need actions: look for ways to show up that will make a difference, whether through writing and speaking, or by showing up in brave and imaginative ways, like the nun who busted into a nuclear-weapons site to expose its vulnerability. Keep in mind that when we come together at all ages against any form of injustice, we dismantle ageism in the process. It’s all one struggle.
- Check out these anti-ageism resources. Create your own. Share them. Now in session: OLD SCHOOL, a clearinghouse of free and carefully vetted resources to educate people about ageism and help dismantle it. You’ll find blogs, books, articles, videos, speakers, and other tools (workshops, handouts, curricula etc.) that are accessible to the general public. Use them, create your own, send them our way, and please spread the word.
- Share my TED talk widely, with your friends, your dentist, your downstairs neighbor . . . you get the idea. It’s an urgent, 11-minute wake-up call, and we’ve got a world to change.
Let’s do it — let’s make it happen!