It was perhaps a couple years ago that a question first crossed my mind that has since cropped up repeatedly and with increasing frequency….how much credence do you give to advice or council from people (much) younger than oneself? I realize this premise is rather broad and the answer is likely quite situational, but let’s take a few examples and examine this issue from different perspectives.
Scenario 1: car needs repairs/ taxes need to be calculated/ medical diagnosis needed/ will needs to be drafted/ pc needs repair/ or any other thing requiring a certain level of technical knowledge and expertise.
I guess for me I have no qualms with accepting help or advice from someone 20 or more years my junior, provided there is some assurance the individual has the requisite background and at least a few years experience performing work related to the field. I figure if you have managed to stay in business for a couple years repairing pc’s or have a degree in computer science you probably know a great deal more about it than I do. Same thing goes with law school, or even possibly growing up in a grease monkey’s garage and helping dad/older brother etc working on cars for years. In some instances, particularly where technology is concerned I might even be more inclined to heed the advice of a 20 something who grew up with a computer surgically attached to them.
Scenario 2: psychological counseling or relationship advice
To a point I could accept the validity of someone’s advice if they held a degree in clinical psychology, but here ‘field experience’ begins to assume critical stature. I would likely accept the word of a counselor who was 10 years younger (37) than myself but find myself more inclined to take what they say with a grain of salt with each year that age differential increases. Actual life experience assumes greater importance in this area, and I recognize from my own experience this takes many years to acquire the intricacies and nuances of understanding that human nature poses. Been through a divorce and are 15 years my junior? I might be inclined to listen to some of what you have to say, based on your personal experiences but am going to be fairly selective in what is taken at face value. Any generalization coming out of your mouth will almost certainly be rejected.
Scenario 3: advice on how to live one’s life or ‘spiritual advice’
I can’t help it but the word ‘guru’ almost instantly springs to mind here. ‘Guru’ simply means ‘teacher’ in Sanskrit but to Westerners it implies a teacher who has attracted a group of followers. The concept of faith almost inevitably enters here and I am truly not a creature of faith when it comes down to it. Sitting in church not long ago I realized the minister was probably seven or so years my junior and she was talking about the importance of living a principled life. I certainly agree with this idea, but found myself asking ‘you haven’t experienced quite as much of the world as I have…how much of the words you speak have you integrated into your daily understanding/existence?’ It occurred to me that this individual had very likely experienced very different life experiences than I had owing to their chosen vocation (e.g. she worked as an on-call chaplain at a children’s hospital for several years – that’s something pretty much out of the realm of my experiences) and that perhaps that afforded her more insight into different areas of the human experience than I possessed. The age difference here is not that large, but if that difference was say 17 years, I think I would consider anyone’s ardently held convictions in this realm pretty suspect – the world and our views change with disturbing regularity over the course of time and in recognition of this we need to be flexible (or in the words of Bob Dylan ‘I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now’)
How much credence do you put into the opinions of others based on their age, given different life situations? Obviously age and experience are not the only measures of validity (apparent intelligence, for instance, might be worth quite a few years) but how much do you find they factor in? Discuss.