I appreciate your response, Nina, as well as the background to some of your comments. Kindly keep in mind that when you and I write, what we write is going to land on people without the benefit of that context- so if you don’t provide it, then any of us as readers are going to interpret what we read as presented.
You didn’t mention anywhere your piece that you are in or are writing about Romania. That simple fact would have made a huge difference. I am not at all insensitive about those conditions; I’ve spent plenty of time in Russian-occupied countries and seen what had been done. Without the benefit of that context, it’s easy to assume you’re discussing Western gyms, Western cultures. All you had to do was say somewhere, “Here in Romania….” and that would have fundamentally changed everything about your piece.
So while I acknowledge and value your points, here’s just a thought: since we are writing for people who will read this from all over the world, if you want us to understand the unique context that is your country, and place the important perspective of the Romanian lens to what you’re writing, then kindly make that clear up front. That helps me and anyone else better understand and process your words. I likely wouldn’t have written the same things had I known this.
The larger issue about how we write about older folks stands. Feedback helps you and me step back and ask different questions about the pieces we write, and how they are construed, and why people might construe them a certain way. This is the classic difference of intent vs. impact. I get feedback that a sentence that I wrote landed badly, and am accused of thinking or feeling something that I most certainly did not. That forces me to look at my choice of wording. You and I can’t control others’ reactions, any more than we can control the stuff others carry around that makes them overly sensitive. However we can take a closer look at how we use or words, and how those might be misunderstood.
I am deeply concerned about the stereotyping of older folks, and therefore I call it out when I see it or think I see it. Your choice of words led me down that path, and whether or not you intended it, that’s how they came across. I am responsible for my reaction just as you are responsible for your choice of words. Or lack thereof, as in clarifying what country we were hearing about.
To that end, it wasn’t my intention to offend. We are from different cultures, Nina, and by virtue of that there are going to be misunderstandings. Given that kindly also don’t misconstrue my intent either. My comments weren’t intended as an attack, and particularly since I had no idea we were talking about a post-communist country, it would be fair to say that would change what I would have said. I took a thread and ran with to a larger context, and you seem to have taken them more personally than they were intended.
I wish you the best and again, thank you most sincerely for your response, which I take seriously, and honor in all ways.