May 2, 2018

Aging is no laughing matter

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, life extension

Sometimes, people laugh imagining themselves as elderly people. Would they laugh imagining themselves as diseased?

If you watched a TV show, or read a comic book, where the difficulties and suffering of an oncological patient were portrayed in a disrespectful, humorous way, you would likely be outraged; at the very least, you would think that the show or comic book was in seriously bad taste. You’d probably think the same about similar material involving a disabled person or anyone who, because of an incurable disease, had only a short time to live spent in increasing misery—for example, a child affected by progeria, a disease that may best be described as a sort of accelerated aging syndrome that kills off its victims in their mid-twenties at the very latest.

Yet, it is not uncommon to see the diseases of old age, and even elderly people in general, being laughed at in just such a way without causing much outrage at all. Why is there a difference?

We’ve all seen this

You can probably recall plenty of examples of this phenomenon from your own experience. Who has never seen a sketch where the main characters are exasperated by a shriveled, elderly man who, holding up an old-fashioned ear trumpet, keeps getting wrong what they are saying despite all their efforts? How many times have cheap laughs been gotten because of an elderly person losing his or her dentures or a rambling old man exaggeratedly ranting about pretty much everything?

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