I interviewed Anna Quindlen, is a 65-year old American journalist, author, and opinion columnist. I had previously read some of her articles in the Public and Private column in the New York Times column and also on Newsweek and I had developed an interest in the topics she handles and her way of reasoning. I requested her audience through the email at the suggestions section below the column and surprisingly she agreed to host me at her family home and we agreed through a call that I should visit in one of the weekends. Most of her topics are related to the social norms in society and through the columns, she offers her opinion and solutions to some of the issues. Some of the issues she has previously discussed include gender discrimination and gay marriages in the country. From the interview, I noted significant similarities and differences between individuals of different ages and genders from how she received me in her house to how she handled my questions which made me develop a very different perspective of various disparities among people in the society.
Differences in everyday life and major life experiences.
One of the major differences between the two of us was gender. Being a male, I tended to do things a bit differently as opposed to how she would like them done and at some point I some point we ended up with different opinions. The gender differences began right from early in the day when she made the first call to confirm that I would be visiting. Upon getting to her place, everything was all set and ready for the interview. She was not only caring but also more concerned about her security as she kept on asking more questions about my background.
Furthermore, I learned that men are so anxious and concerned whereas I was so anxious about the interview, she took her time to prepare a meal before embarking on the interview. Moreover, she remembered the tiny details I had told her through the phone about my family. We discussed one of her articles named “Uncle Sam and Aunt Samantha” where she was concerned on the idea that only men are allowed to sign the military which is used in selecting individuals who could defend the nation in times of emergency. She also mentioned instances in the society where women are discriminated in the society, for example, in job opportunities and also education across the world where women are denied their right to education and instead forced to serve their male counterparts through forced marriages. In her opinion, she considered that gender discrimination and provided detailed examples, both traditional and modern, where women have proved to be equal to their male counterparts. She also noted that women undergo objection and poor representation in administrative roles, a fact that has greatly contributed to the inequality.
The age disparity issue
The issue of age disparity was also evident from the discussion, given that I am barely off my teenage and she is in her upper sixties. At the beginning of the interview, she complimented my hairstyle and official dress code. She confessed to having expected a college student in “funny dressing and hairstyles” as she put it. Older adults disagree with the dressing code of young people and they believe that what young people consider fashion has led to disrespect and loss of human dignity.
Among her concerns with the younger generation was the use of the internet. In her opinion, Google had its advantages and disadvantages but social media ruined. Children no longer interact with their peers on face to face thanks to social media. She also complained about children seeking information from the internet instead of talking to the parents who would offer first-hand information from experience. She also confessed that the desire to meet a young person who was willing to converse on face to face with an older person was the main reason she granted the interview. Quindlen also believes that younger people have developed ageist attitudes and no longer take care of their parents. She quoted research which proved that even professionals engaged in various forms of prejudice. For example, negative stereotypes among healthcare practitioners which affects their behavior towards older patients which facilitates depression among the old. On the contrary, young people find parents to b old-fashioned and thus prefer to seek advice from their peers through the internet. Old people also disapprove the casual manner in which young people handle matters of relationships and she believes that sexual immorality among the youths is contributing social evils such as abortions, prostitution, and the spread of diseases.
We also discussed one of her articles regarding gay marriages whereby she seemed to agree with the behavior. Despite being in a heterosexual relationship, Quindlen agreed with the notion of people of the same gender getting married. In her defense, she showed admiration to partners of the same gender who against all odds gather confidence and declare their marriage to a condemning society. To her, the act indicated love and commitment and felt like, in such scenarios, the society should respond with happily and approve of the union.
I must confess that given the age and gender difference, and considering the sensitivity of some topics, I at times became so uncomfortable in discussing the matters. In particular, discussing the topics pertaining to sexuality made me uncomfortable but I managed to get the answers I desired thanks to her maturity, knowledge, and understanding. She explained all the issues diligently and even touched on issues that she realized I feared to ask.
The most unexpected information I learned from the activity was concerning the issue of aging and ageism. Despite witnessing ageism as a form of discrimination through birthday cards to anti-aging advertisements, I never knew the seriousness of the matter until she explained. It is absurd to realize that ageist attitudes are contributing to the early deaths of older adults through conditions such as depression. I learned that despite the fact some bodily changes are inevitable, older adults can enjoy a good life provided they engage in activities that help them maintain a well-functioning mind. Experts suggest that it is possible for society to transform the negative perceptions towards older adults into more positive attitudes and beliefs ( Kurth & Intrieri, 2017). To achieve the change, individuals should start by providing correct information about aging, which would counteract the uninformed beliefs about old adults and the aging process. Judging from racism and sexism, changing some social norms can also lead to a more prosperous and equitable community (Officer & de la Fuente-Núñez, 2018). Encouraging and having good behavior, understanding, and political determination concerning age and aging promotes healthy aging while fostering people’s ability to live productive lives and participate in activities of their choice.
Similarities between old and young people
Despite the many differences between young and old people, they share several notable similarities including at workplaces, young people are considered too inexperienced while old people are considered too old and technologically disadvantaged. Both parties also suffer loneliness as young people separate from friends when moving away in search of schools and jobs while the old are separated from their friends by death. Both of them also suffer dependency as parents tell youths what to while adult children tell their parents what to do. In terms of gender, some of the similarities between both men and women are that both have the capacity to lead, to understand concepts in class, and to make wise and thoughtful decisions. In terms of age, the most surprising similarity was that both parties suffer from similar problems in the society including loneliness, dependency, and the fact that both parties sometimes engage in the use of drugs, either recreational for youths or over the counter drugs to control their emotions. Gender-wise, both men and women are perfect in different areas, for example, men are good in times of danger as they keep looking for possibilities of threats while women are good in capturing details and thus they complement each other. Besides, gender discrimination affects both women and men through their female family members.
All my life I had always supported the idea of including women in technical occupations including the military. I also believed that the old belong to the retirement home as they seemed to condemn every idea that a young person conceived. Moreover, I grew up in a religious family where gay relations were an abomination. After the interview with Quindlen, I have learned that old age and gender are beyond human control and every person in a society has an important role to play. I addition, different people have a different reason for belonging in groups and therefore it wise to respect their humanity and learn to embrace those who are different from us for peaceful coexistence.
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