Throughout lockdown, my 65-year-old mom did one thing that really shocked me. She began occurring to TikTok so she might watch and observe her favorite “Dancing Dadi” – which implies grandmother in Hindi.
I used to be genuinely bowled over to find that my mom – who is totally technophobic – had purchased an iPad, bought a high-speed web connection and found out the way to create a TikTok account, all simply to observe uninterrupted Dancing Dadi.
Whereas I respect that few sights are extra entertaining than an Indian granny amusing others along with her depraved dance strikes, there needed to be one thing greater than mere amusement changing my mom to expertise and the youthful sights of social media.
As I began to look at the explanation behind this transformation, I realised that each my mom and Dancing Dadi herself try to bust the destructive stereotypes and myths about previous age.
Whereas my mom was tearing down the trope of the older one that can’t familiarize yourself with expertise or perceive social media, Dancing Dadi was shattering the stereotype that older girls don’t have the vitality to bounce or categorical pleasure by means of motion – and was utilizing social media to display it.
Current analysis from the College of Singapore has proven this isn’t as uncommon as you would possibly assume. Many older persons are turning to TikTok – finest often called a playground for Gen Z – to reframe the expertise of ageing and relax in opposition to age stereotyping.
In my very own work as a behavioural knowledge scientist, I discover how people turn out to be biased within the first place. We’re all born unbiased however then be taught our prejudices from all types of sources corresponding to tradition, language, society, friends, values and so forth. My analysis is worried with growing subtle AI applied sciences to mitigate human biases, prejudices and stereotypes.
Each my mom and Dancing Dadi compelled me to ponder these ageist stereotypes – why they nonetheless exist and why some persons are attempting so onerous to beat them utilizing one in all world’s hottest social media platforms.
How stereotypes work
Stereotypes are beliefs (or associations) about sure social teams or classes. As an illustration, males are generally related to energy and profession whereas girls are sometimes related to household and an absence of energy. In different phrases, stereotypes are expectations a couple of sure group’s capability, preferences and character kind, which are sometimes over-generalised and thus inaccurate.
Alongside the identical traces, older folks (these over 60) are stereotypically thought-about weak, ailing, incapable, boring and ineffective at expertise and social media.
Analysis has proven that the human thoughts has cognitive limitations corresponding to bounded rationality, that means, we search for ok choices quite than the very best ones. When making choices, we depend on easy cues which are sometimes shaped by our assumptions or stereotypical associations. That is very true when folks don’t have the time or sources to find new info.
The query is, are these associations right and may they be relied on throughout determination making? Many people would possibly deny we predict that means, however how usually when making choices beneath strain, can we really succumb to our cognitive limitations, forming biased opinions? On this means, stereotypes result in biased perceptions then which might then result in discriminatory behaviour.
The one approach to unshackle the thoughts from our personal unconscious biases is to demolish these stereotypes. Nevertheless, difficult stereotypes, altering society and mitigating unconscious biases that result in discrimination shouldn’t be straightforward.
However these wishing to dispel destructive stereotypes of older age have already began a social media revolution on Tiktok’s in style video platform. Sensible, humorous and usually geared in direction of kids, 41% of TikTok customers are beneath 24 – however round 14.5% of customers are over 50.
More and more, because the Singapore analysis has proven, an increasing number of older persons are adopting this platform as their social media of alternative to offer a glimpse to a youth-centric world what their lives are like, the views they maintain and the enjoyable they’ve.
The researchers compiled TikTok’s most-viewed movies of individuals over 60 with at the least 100,000 followers, leading to as much as 1,382 posts with greater than 3.5 billion views. An in-depth evaluation then highlighted how older adults are proactively partaking in TikTok to defy the destructive stereotypes and problem socially constructed notions of “previous age”.
These revolutionary content material creators are customers over 60 and creating viral content material for his or her hundreds of thousands of followers. The large hitters are folks like Grandma Droniak, who fingers out straight-talking recommendation; Grandad Joe, who makes humorous, non-speaking movies about how he sees issues; J-Canine, a nonagenarian who likes to place younger folks proper; Grandpa Chan, who’s a whizz at keep-fit dance movies; and Babs aka Nonna, who’s now a best-selling cookbook writer by means of her in style TikTok recipe and way of life movies.
These folks showcase their knowledge, vibrancy, vitality and fierceness, proving that granddads may be granfluencers and grandmothers may be glammas – wonderful and glamorous.
In utilizing humorous, partaking movies, older persons are taking a stand in opposition to bias and discrimination, and rejecting the concept they’re invisible. In fact there must be higher effort on a wide range of fronts to get rid of the stereotyping of older those that goes on in our tradition. This contains what I do – designing programmes which might make us conscious of our personal biases and devising methods which might problem them.
In the meantime, these older TikTok-ers are a part of an encouraging and heartening motion that’s serving to to shift prevailing attitudes. In a world so involved with inclusion, older persons are usually on the finish of the queue, as we noticed through the COVID-19 pandemic. This pleasant late-in-life embracing of TikTok serves to remind us all the worth and humanity of a bit of society that’s so usually ignored and sidelined.
Shweta Singh doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that may profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.