If you look closely towards the bottom of the sidebar on my blog you’ll see a badge for something called ‘Post 40 Bloggers.’ Click on this and it will take you to their site, where you will find a range of posts by people over the age of 40.
They have kindly featured a couple of my posts before, which is why I wear their badge of honour, but in recent weeks they have promoted a number of posts that have got me thinking about whether I should be doing this. I’ve been wondering if there is, in their writers’ eyes, some kind of upper age limit beyond which blogging becomes inappropriate, like an onscreen version of dad dancing. Oh, and it appears that being male is apparently a disadvantage too, as for some reason their featured writers have, by and large, somehow omitted to notice our existence. It’s time to redress the balance, I think!
Some might say that age is irrelevant, but if that is the case why mention it or write about it, as quite a few have been doing? My age is part of me and who I am, it gives me life experiences not available to younger people. Of course, I understand that ageism is still very prevalent in many industries, and I know that I have the luxury of being protected from this, now that I have retired. But, without that burden, I don’t keep my age a secret or shy away from mentioning it, when it suits me to do so – like now! We can still write when we are older, we don’t lose the ability to communicate just because we are in our 60s, not our 40s: fortunately for the likes of me, I don’t have to contend with anyone telling me I’m too old to do the job, or to fit in with the younger cool kids, and I know that makes me very lucky.
And men can blog too – there is no natural monopoly on subject matter. Of course there will be some subjects that will appeal more to one gender than another, but that doesn’t mean we can’t read them if we choose to do so: for me, the quality of the writing is of equal importance to the subject matter, so why should I worry if it isn’t ‘meant for me?’ Maybe I should start writing about football and cricket – there could be a whole new market for me in Australia on creative uses of sandpaper! But just by saying that makes me think there could be a post in there somewhere about how we develop our sporting loyalties and what they mean to us. Is that a topic which would appeal more to men than women? Is it being sexist to think or say that? You might think that – but I don’t. It is just my response to the sexism – in the sense that they believe only they can do it – that seems to be implicit in several of Post 40 Bloggers’ featured writers. And I have many female friends who have an interest in sports, so I am well aware that this is a subject of wide interest – no need to pick me up on that!
But maybe I’m just weeing in the wind? Maybe blogging really is a female-led world? If you google something like ‘older bloggers’ this is what you get: mostly female, mostly beauty and fashion:
To be honest, I found that to be a pretty dispiriting exercise. It did leave me wondering if this blogging lark really wasn’t something I should be doing. But then I thought ‘sod it, it’s my time I’m spending on it and people can choose whether or not to read what I write.’ So here I am, back after my most recent little hiatus.
For the past couple of years I have been an occasional contributor to the Senior Salon, which was set up by Bernadette and recently taken over by Esmé. Each week, bloggers choose to contribute posts and I have found many blogging ‘friends’ this way. Yes, the balance is largely towards female writers, but there are a number of regular male contributors too (I use the word ‘regular’ in relation to their blogging habits, not because we oldies are obsessed about our bodily functions – just to be clear!). But I follow many other blogs too, written by people of a range of ages and on a plethora of topics. The age and gender of the writer are irrelevant to me: it’s what they have to say which is of interest. Of course, their writing will reflect their life experiences, but why should I feel odd if I choose to read them, simply because I’m older or younger, male not female? Actually, I don’t – if you have a problem with this then I think you need to take a look at yourself and why you blog. Be honest with yourself, it might just surprise you.
Is reaching the grand old age of 40 some kind of barrier? Is it a milestone, beyond which everything changes? Judging by some of the posts I’ve seen, some in their 40s appear to think their lives are in a downward spiral. But even we poor disadvantaged males have a life expectancy in the UK of double that – people, your race is barely halfway run, and you have much to look forward to. Maybe we need a Post 60 Bloggers website? Or Post 70, or any other age you care to choose? Age shouldn’t be used in a divisive way – ‘I’m not that age so that can’t be for me’ – but people put others into pigeon holes. It’s a form of prejudice, of discrimination – don’t be ageist, please!
We’re all different and have our own uniqueness – I don’t want to be categorised as part of a ‘target market.’ I choose what I want to read, not what I’m told I should read. I would prefer people to read my posts because they enjoy them, find them interesting, believe them to be a good use of their time, and that is how I approach the blogs I read. People seem to be taking this a bit too seriously and are losing sight of the enjoyment we can feel from reading or producing a well-written piece. Surely, the pleasure we can derive is reason enough to be involved in blogging, without any other need for justification? Simply by putting something out there we are offering an insight into our selves – my blog is me, like it or lump it. I don’t mind what your age or gender are, you’re very welcome here, and I hope you feel that it was worth your time and effort. In saying this, I recognise that there are many reasons why people blog, one of these being commercial: I did originally have some comments here about monetising a blog, but they felt out of place. Maybe another time…..
Nor should blogging make you feel under pressure. Some feel they have to post every day, or every week. That may be fine for them but it isn’t my way. If I don’t have something to say, or don’t feel like writing, why should I put myself under pressure to do it? Believe it or not, but I set myself quality standards for what I post, and creating a schedule is the best way I know of reducing the quality of my output. I took part in National Blog Posting Month twice, and the range and content of what I posted was, to my eyes, all over the place. Again, that may work for some but it isn’t for me: reading some of the posts I’ve seen recently makes me think I should somehow be feeling guilty for being male, older, irregular in my posts. I don’t. And I won’t ever apologise for that.
Maybe there are far fewer male than female bloggers, and maybe older bloggers like me are very much in a minority. But if we choose to be here, what we have to say is just as valid to us as anything said by others with different demographics. Don’t lose sight of that, or of us. Who knows, you may even find something to like about us 😉