Outrage Over Picture Showing Young People Looking At Their Phones While Elderly Woman Stands

When an elderly person gets on a bus or a train, the general consensus is to offer up your seat. It’s just polite.

Well, a group of commuters on a train in Sydney have been shamed online after they appeared not to have got the memo. A photo has emerged online which showed them seemingly ignoring a fellow passenger, forcing her to stand.

The picture was shared on Facebook and has unsurprisingly received a lot of attention, with 1,400 comments and 25,000 shares, since it was posted last week.

The quartet of passengers have been slammed for failing to give up their seats.

One person wrote: “Shitty parenting results in shitty children. They probably don’t know any better thanks to their parents trying to be their best friends and not preparing them to be adults.”

Another added: “This photo shits me !!!! No respect what so ever gone are the days where the younger generation look after for their elders !!!! How other people haven’t ripped them from their seats and or made sure granny had a seat is beyond frustrating.”

A third said they definitely would have offered up their seat for the woman. They wrote: “Hey I’m not a young person but I would have stood up and given my seat up for the elderly lady and I’m dam sure my children would have done the same and they aren’t teenagers either…..dam rude, no dam respect,no empathy…too self absorbed.”

Not everyone was as quick to condemn the seated passengers however, with some claiming the picture might not tell the whole story.

One user wrote: “Not defending them but… someone may have offered, but the elderly said ‘No It’s ok I’m getting off soon or at next stop’.”

04 February 2019, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bielefeld: View of an open track bed with rails at a railway bridge under construction. Three railway bridges in Bielefeld have been renewed since mid-2018. To this end, tracks on the freight line have so far been closed. From mid-March, the line will be closed to passenger trains and the trains will be diverted via the freight line. This also has an impact on long-distance traffic in NRW. Photo: Friso Gentsch/dpa

But rather than picking on anyone in the photograph, other people turned their aim at the person behind the camera, for trying to cause trouble.

“Typical person today. Take a photo and complain on Facebook but don’t have the balls to say something in real life,” wrote one person.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Sydney Trains said: “Sydney Trains encourages all of its passengers to observe appropriate transport etiquette including respecting elderly, disabled or pregnant customers by offering up their seats.”

Reasons to Respect Our Elders

China, Confucian law encourages an utmost respect for the family unit, and innate value for its older members. And although times are changing, so too do Japan and Korea celebrate the ages of the old. Latin cultures have a similar respect traditionally with their elders, as do many native tribes. Western culture however, contemporary as it prides itself to be, holds a far more youth-centric outlook. This is a concern, as statistics are showing levels of depression and anxiety have skyrocketed due to a decrease in value once we reach a certain age.

They see the world in a different way
Through the experiences of their own lives and through the time they have spent on this earth, they will see the world from their own perspective. They might assign themselves differently to the way they walk and talk and dress. Take note. It might just broaden your horizons.

They have walked a mile in your shoes
The advantage anybody older than yourself has, is that they have lived at the age that you have before. Although every situation is different, they do know what it is like to be where you are, or at least, at the age you are at. Unfortunately you cannot say the same about them, so have respect and listen to what they have to say.

They are more travel weary
Who knows what countries they have trailed though, what mountains they have climbed to get where they are! They might be tired – offer them a seat!

They have experience we can only dream of
The world is a different place now. The world they lived in will also never exist again as it once did. We will never know what it was like then, before things changed and became now. We can only dream of what it was like to dance in the disco era, or experience war. They lived it. Show respect for the history they have survived.

They will have stories that can benefit us
Everybody has a story to tell. Everyone. These are the stories of our lives, the tales of us. Don’t just roll your eyes when your grandma or grandpa tells you ‘again’ about the good old days … relish in a story that might influence your own.

They are still learning from us too
As we are alive, we are all still learning. They might be older, but they are learning too. Have patience.

They are our family
Your grandparents choices in life resulted in YOU! Be grateful. Look after each other. Love is the answer.

The ignored elderly: We’ve become invisible to society say half of over 65s

Age International’s impressive collection of essays invests significant effort in challenging this analysis and the myths behind it. The numbers are telling. Though we are all well aware of the youth bulge, the old bulge is not yet part of the development lexicon. But by 2050, the number of people in the world aged 60 or older will be more than twice what it is now (pdf), growing from 868 million to 2.02 billion, according to the UN.

The year 2047 will be remembered, according to UN predictions, as the first year when older people (60+) will outnumber children (under 16) (pdf). Crucially, 80% of these old people will, by that time, live in what we call developing countries.

The case is fairly clear and is made in essay after essay. The failure of the international community to recognise this major demographic shift, a consequence of increased life expectancy – itself one of the finest symbols of the progress of humankind in the past century – is distorting the development narrative and the policies that accompany it.

Far more than just making the moral case for investing in older people, the authors argue that older people are hard workers and relatively productive (even if their contributions to economic development are often informal), and that they are crucial to social cohesion and child-rearing. Investing in their health and wellbeing is not only a duty, therefore, but sound economic and social policy.

Two thoughts. First, should those focused on children’s welfare view this as a rearguard action from the grey lobby, as competition for limited budgets and political energies? A facetious question to which, obviously, the answer is no. The most important policies required to help old people to thrive and contribute are likely, mostly, to be very similar to those that young people need, eg better basic services (free at the point of use) and better infrastructure. A deeper focus on older people would not be to the exclusion of others, but would ensure that their needs are contemplated as better systems are rolled out in fast-changing developing countries, for the good of old people and the rest of society too.

Second, this issue further undermines the post-colonial us-and-them, we-help-you mentality. In one of my first blogs for the Guardian how I tried to provoke British readers by suggesting that visitors from Africa might be horrified by the way we treat our old people. You may or may not agree, but, apart from social policies in the global north being, naturally, far better funded, there is no sense in my mind that northern countries are nearer to solving the problem of how to respond to ageing societies than any other part of the world.

This is an area where all countries have much to learn, and much to offer. The issue of old people is then, perhaps ironically, a thoroughly modern one in the spectrum of global development problems.

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