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The paradox of age

It is my first day of class for the year. The subject I am attending is Ageing and Society, and resonates well with me. I look around. Except for my teacher and I, the class is full of golden youth, 20 years olds who are submerged in more deeper sensitives of life. Or so it seems. Take Paul, all of 22, as he introduces himself to me. Juggling full time classes and part time work, he comes to class with the most serious demeanour. You would be inclined to think he carries the weight of the world upon his shoulders.

Paul is invariably never late. When I enter the class, he has already occupied the left hand side of the round table we share for this three-day intensive seminar on old age. My immediate reality and what I am about to study is a paradox in itself as the dichotomies of age stare at me.

I am interested in how 20-year olds function these days. Paul has his laptop with a few windows open and forgive me for prying, I am inquisitive. In between, he manages a polite acknowledgment of my presence getting in a few words. He tells me he is busy working on his assignments with the deadlines looming large. His Facebook messenger pops up every now and again and there are times he carries on nonchalantly, even letting out a smile, a smirk or a frown depending on the turn his chats take.

Simon our teacher is probably impressed at this earnest young student as he sees someone taking down every word he spews, the sheer speed of his typings a proof. I am boggled in my mind wondering how the hell he is managing to multi task.

Paul does not cease to amaze me. In between lectures when Simon stops talking and makes us do the talking, Paul butts in with inputs. How does he manage when clearly he has been typing away his assignment and chatting with friends? Are 20-year olds blessed with extra hearing skills? How do they manage to be so switched on?

In completing my seminar this semester, I came back home with some truths.The definition of old age seems to be shifting with every decade and being immortal seems to be the ultimate goal in the study of gerontology. The likes of Paul will assume immortality if you ask me. However if there is one thing that Paul and I shared in common in that class, it was the fact that we were both avid Facebook users. While Paul can afford to be unapologetic about it, there is an embarrassing truth that comes up to my face upon admittance. It is not unfair when we are taking about the immortality of age. No?


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