Social media is now a driving force of the society. It is a platform where we pick up information and headline, more importantly, it is where to provoke awareness and changes. In 2011, the Egyptian revolution was sparked by a Facebook page. The Arab Spring revealed social media’s greatest potential. It really has the power to change the world.
Can social media help put an end to ageism? The aging population has been a global trend for more than a decade. Yet, the general public still holds the stereotype about elderly generation and define them as dependent, inadequate and useless. Ageism is a kind of discrimination that we should get rid of.
Becca Levy, an associate professor at Yale School of Public Health, with her colleagues, conducted a research on Facebook for groups concentrating on elderly people. They found 84 groups created mainly by people around 20 to 29 years old with about 25,500 members. About 27 percent of the descriptors infantilized elderly people, 37 percent advocated banning them from public activities and about 75 percent criticized them. The team reports this unsettling result in a 2013 issue of The Gerontologist.
If social media can bring about political revolution, can it change the ageism? I personally believe that social media can definitely play an important role in opposing negative perceptions of aging. By reaching and having the conversation with people from all backgrounds, elderly people can demonstrate their successful aging to younger generations. Elderly people can also reconnect with people through social media and even share their knowledge and skills thereby change the stereotype of aging.
Corporations and governments should be more aware and proactive toward issue on ageism. Take Facebook for example, the policy on hate speech is that “Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their: race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases.” Age is missing. While ageism was put under the Equality Act in the UK in 2010, there are still many countries that do not have legislation to protect people from treated unfairly because of their age.
Aging society is an inevitable truth that all members of the society have to put effort to create a more elderly-friendly society. With a tremendous influence power, social media can be the driving force to defeat ageism.
How Social Media Can Help Stamp Out Ageism
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