Why the internet shuns mature professionals
Pulsars are the remnants of a star, now dead, that has exploded in a supernova. Interestingly, though sometimes a mere few kilometers in diameter, they play way above their weight in the surrounding neighborhood, spinning very fast with enormous density so a teaspoonful of would weigh trillions of kilograms.
How apt. Once bright shining stars, when mature professionals venture into the online universe we are seen as the burnt out vestiges of a former glory. But like pulsars we also play way above our weight, and our density is the product of decades of experience in our professions.
As I explain in my eBook, I began my middle-aged journey to online content marketing as a result of a failed joint venture:
A while ago I had a small epiphany. Sitting at a conference table with a group of website designers and consultants, I realized my presence that day was largely superfluous. Not much of a revelation, you might think, we’ve all had that feeling in meetings. Except that I was the architect of the online product under discussion, and a lot of money was being spent in pursuit of its development.
This is fairly common experience for those of us who have suffered through endless consultations with IT professionals who revel in an arcane language and poor presentation skills. As I realized in that meeting, my presence was at best annoying, my questions a hindrance to the process, and my age (fifties) a matter of some unexpressed but not entirely hidden derision:
At that meeting I realized the consultants saw the product mostly as a means to showcase their expertise, which was reflected in conversations that largely disregarded the needs of the ultimate customer, the end users who would source it online. Though these consumers would be the final arbiters of its success, the IT consultants pursued an agenda of ever more demanding and time consuming technical “fixes” that in fact seemed to needlessly impede the usability of the product.
There was clearly a disconnect here. As a lawyer and writer (and let’s face it, the architect of the product!) , I understood that the product was all about the end users. For the consultants who bandied around state of the art analyses of SEO and meta tags and other technical issues of website design, every meeting seemed an opportunity to consult with each other. I was ignored not because I was older, but because I was irrelevant.
Mature professionals know more than they think
Mature professionals – 45 or 50 or 55 or 60 – are disenfranchised in the online world. You can argue about this till the digital cows come home (to your homepage of course), but it’s a fact. How do I know? Because I am one of them.
In my profession, the law, contrary perspectives are not unusual. It is an interesting dilemma of discrimination laws as to where the liability for prejudice lies – is it an objective test or are the subjective “feelings” of the victims to be the benchmark? Let me be clear, when it comes to this form of discrimination, my experience is that ageism is alive and well in the online world, and many peers confirm these feelings.
Of course it’s not only the fault of clueless commentators, most of them far younger, who do not know how to communicate with mature professionals. Many of those professionals also fear to move beyond a comfort zone where they have spent decades in a soothing limelight. But it’s not as though content marketers and other internet marketing specialists lay out the welcome mat. It’s therefore a real pity that there are few peers, and I am trying to be one of them, to facilitate the entry of fellow mature professionals into the world of online content. In part, that’s why I launched this website.
The big secret mature professionals keep to themselves
You won’t learn this in a book about web design or content marketing, but mature professionals who feel alienated from online marketing sometimes have the most to offer and to gain, because we come armed with decades of professional experience. For us, mastering the technology is the easy part.
Why is this a secret? Because those mature professionals don’t believe their expertise can encompass online content management, and content providers are more motivated by a need to emphasize and sequester their proprietary skills.
So how about a meeting of the hearts and minds?
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