How old are you?
Wait. Don’t tell me. Why? Because I don’t care.
On this great series of interconnected tubes we call the Internet, age is something that doesn’t take precedent over your skills, knowledge or talent. Sometimes. Whether you choose not to disclose your age is completely up to you, and it’s much like a game of snakes and ladders. You’re moving up the board, getting pretty successful and more well known. Disclosing your age (all depending on what it really is) can either further you greatly, or you’ll step on a snake and be behind everyone else.
A 12 year old blogger, nothing out of the ordinary. Why? Because these kids are smart. They wouldn’t write at that level if they weren’t. They realize that in an industry dominated by people significantly older than them, playing the age card, so to speak, can really further them. I’m not going to list examples here, but a quick Google search would leave nothing to desire, I suspect.
The thing with using your age as a method to advance where you are in terms of readership, traffic and personal recognition is that you loose a lot of things in the process. First of all, people are visiting because of your age, not you. Not what you write, not what you have to say. You have to be shameless to say, “Read my blog, I’m 12”, or “12 year old blogger”. It’s just playing on the fact that people will read that and come to your site. They may read something, just to see.
It would be interesting to see what would would happen if these guys had an experiment. I’m not against furthering your self and developing a great site, but if they were completely anonymous, would they achieve the same results?
Switching over for while to the world of freelance. Age is something that can totally hinder you here. Many clients you will come across will likely be older, having the money to hire you (not to say young entrepreneurs and developers don’t, because they definitely do) to invest in outsourcing a job. If you’re young and a client asks you your age before you’ve started the project, what do you do? Should you lie? Will telling the truth loose you the job?
After all, what originally took the potential client to a paying client was your work, your portfolio. The man behind the curtain so to speak is just that- so your age shouldn’t pull any weight here.
Age, race and sex are all things people can and do discriminate against. There are multiple ways, being young, to not be the object of such prejudices. First of all, if you’re just flat out great at what you do, it’s hard to argue that. Second, confront your client. Ask them if your answer to the amount of time you’ve been on this earth holds a pivotal point in you securing the job.
So, are you young? If you use it to further yourself, it’s your choice but keep in mind the things you’re sacrificing (mainly integrity and respect) and the things you stand to gain. If you’re in a freelance situation, think about how you’ll answer the age question. Whether you decide to tell the truth or not, either could have future or immediate consequences.
In conclusion, we all know it’s not a perfect world and your age (among other things) could affect your employability, so to speak. Solution? Judge people on their accomplishments and their abilities, rather than their age.
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Connor Wilson is a freelance web designer and writer living in Toronto, Ontario.
Originally posted on June 13, 2007 @ 3:50 am