Last night Susan Brooks, founder of Cookies From Home, whose successful exit in 2010 after a quarter century in business was envied by a community still reeling from the Great Recession, came and spoke to my Digital Media Entrepreneurship class at Cronkite. Susan, who is now a consultant to woman business owners, and her husband Barry, who is a Zumba teacher, are soon celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
Do the math. It’s enough to show you the difference between aging in the past and aging in the future.
Above is a photo taken by one 70+ woman of another 70+ woman. The first woman, the professor, is a user of Snapchat, an app for the “younger” demographic. The second woman, the entrepreneur, has the fiery red hair and the high energy that propelled her into a nationwide success from baking cookies, offers her experience.
As I said last night, we’re at an inflection point in our treatment of aging and ageism. We still have ageism ingrained in the culture, but more and more there’s a cognitive dissonance between what younger people consider as old and what “old” really connotes. We need a new word for this: perhaps you are not “old” until you are terminally ill? Or infirm? Or unwilling to participate in the pace of change around you?
We began to get into this question in my Digital Media Entrepreneurship class, where one of the students has a business idea that could span three generations and open up the conversation among them. I hope she gets the company launched; she could really change the dialogue. It would be fantastic if a journalism student defined one of the 21st century functions of journalism!