11 Thoughts on Being Called an Old Woman

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The Facebook Ad That Sent Me into a Tailspin

This Shirt is Perfect For You!
This Shirt is Perfect For You!

As I navigate Facebook, increasingly more ads have been cropping up. Often when I am following a story, confusing and shifting arrows appear which try to trick and manipulate me into viewing information about a supposedly wonderful product or offer. I have played video games that are far less complex than negotiating FB’s social media marketing can be.

A while ago, I started noticing ads that were specifically targeting me, a development I found discomfiting. FB is selling its users’ data to companies who create personalized ads; however nothing approached the impact of the recent (and recurring) ad seen above.

When I first saw this ad on my screen, I was taken aback and had to stare at it for a bit.

Here are my thoughts (after WTF?!):

  1. What nerve! How insulting! Yes, I was being called old.
  2. In fact, I was being called old and this insult was expected to motivate me to buy a sweatshirt. I was really perplexed.
  3. Why would I willingly want to go around with the word old emblazoned on my chest…and pay for the privilege? Aren’t we constantly trying to disguise signs of our advancing age…not announce it to the world? Not to mention that I am from a family where fibbing about one’s age (or at least avoiding the subject) was strongly encouraged.
  4. Was this a mistake? No, I realized, it’s not.
  5. I have read The Four Agreements. I have been in therapy. I know I am not supposed to take anything personally, even when it’s meant personally. Yet…
  6. Who exactly is insulting me? An algorithm? Is that even possible?
  7. Am I old? Well, maybe, by certain standards. I tend to agree with Bernard Baruch, “To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.”
  8. Am I obsessing? Possibly.
  9. Should I (or anyone) be insulted or feel embarrassed or ashamed of being (called) old? Ideally no, but that concept would entail a much weightier discussion of how age and the aged are viewed in our society.
  10. Never underestimate an old woman who graduated from University of Chicago. There is a clear presumption that without this directive, people will most likely underestimate me, overlook me, and find me irrelevant. But hey, I’m more intelligent, more ambitious and better educated than you might assume, given that I am an old woman.
  11. What about the sexist aspect? Not much is lower on the social ladder than an old woman. I googled similar quotes; I did find merchandise bearing comparable sentiments referencing women and old men, but I had trouble finding anything that said never underestimate a man.

I wonder how well these sweatshirts are selling and if other women are also finding these ads unsettling. For me, this might just be the impetus to stop overestimating Facebook and finally part company.

Belinda Brock's book, GG and Mamela, is available on Amazon

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