Who You Calling An Elder Blogger?

7 years ago

I was at the BlogHer conference in New York when one of the panelists commented that “even” her own mother blogs. She called her mother “one of those elder bloggers.” Meaning, she said, “anyone over 50 who blogs.”

I pried my gnarled fingers off my Underwood, slammed down my Ensure and quaked, “Say, what, girlie?” That’s a joke. I would never say anything so ageist, but I did gulp and turned to my daughter to ask, “Might she be talking about moi?”

I am well over 50 and my daughter is well under and yet, blogging wise, she is the senior one. Someone might call her a hottie blogger. She probably wouldn’t object.

Elderly woman in bed using notebook computer.  Mature woman using notebook computer in bed

But elder blogger really pushed my buttons. Is Maya Angelou an elder poet? Is Annie Leibovitz an elder photographer? Is Madonna an elder rock star?

Not surprisingly, the blogging world is dominated by youngish people. A story in the New York Times said that 53 percent of bloggers are between the ages of 21 to 35. Only about 7 percent of bloggers are over 51. In the world of blogging the young are old hands, the old are newbies.

At the BlogHer conference there were more than 2,400 women bloggers, and certainly, the under-50 demo outnumbered the over-50. And over 60, like me.

It could be worse, I guess. They might have called us “geezer geeks.”

I asked Beth Blakely from the website Vibrant Nation, which is for women age 50 and over and has a number of regular bloggers, what she thinks of the term. Beth says it can be helpful to identify a blogger by her subject just as you would any writer with a particular focus. But the general tag of elder blogger doesn’t work for her.

My friend and contemporary Michele blogs about food and wine and some might call her a foodie blogger. But elder blogger? Never. She colors her hair eggplant and hula dances. I can’t imagine she will ever be an elder anything.

The problem is the word. In some cultures “elder” is a sign of respect, as it was once in our own and might some day be again. But in our mainstream youth-happy world, it creaks.

I will embrace my gray hair, my funky sore back and that I know most Beatles lyrics. But elder is a description I am not ready or brave enough to own. It makes me feel old. Blogging makes me feel like a player.

Pattie Heisser has the website 50 Fabulous and doesn’t consider herself an elder blogger. “It gives me hives to think of it.” She has the same problem with the word. “Our culture does not revere our elderly and to be so means that you will be disregarded and discarded.”

On the other side, Joan Price is fine with elder. Joan writes books about sex after 60 and blogs about it at Better Than I Ever Expected. In her mid-60s, Joan calls herself a senior and considers her audience boomers, seniors and, yes, elders. She credits her late husband with putting the right spin on elder, as someone who had “the wisdom of a lifetime of experiences.”

Were elder to deliver such a strong, respectful vibe it would be something to aspire to. It would be a designation that you earned, not something automatically granted when you become a certain age, like Medicare and movie discounts.

Then, if someone called me an elder, meaning that I was experienced, wise and worldly, I would flaunt it like a new pashmina.

But elder as in elder blogger? No, in the blogging world I’m pretty much a juvenile.

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