It started innocently enough. “Would you help us improve our business by filling out a short survey?” Sure, why not?
Five questions about the product, five more about their website and just a few more about my shopping habits.
Then, “Tell us a little more about yourself.” “Gender?” Two boxes. Easy for me but what about those who don’t define as easily? We still have work to do.
“Marital Status?” There’s a choice for “partner.” Yes, the world is changing.
“Race?” Finally, they’ve replaced “White,” (which is a color), with “Caucasian ” (which is a race). More progression and lots more boxes. I alone tried to change the world by always crossing out ‘white’ and writing in ‘caucasian when confronted, but then computers made that mission impossible.
“Yearly Income?” Lots of choices but I never feel comfortable offering this up so I always go for the very low box. Let them figure it out.
“Age?” The selection is long. I scroll past endless boxes that span five to seven years like “42 to 49?” Evidently their marketing group is very interested in capturing the buying habits of various age groups. Good for them. We Baby Boomers are a large group and many of us have disposal income and on-line-shopping-savvy. I’ve finally scrolled down far enough to see the box 57 to 64. Just one more click and there it was. One FINAL box– “65 and older.”
What?? That’s it? They’re lumping 65 with potentially 30 plus more years into one box? I’m dumbstruck and angry and frankly, offended. But cool heads prevail and I continue trying not to make it something that it isn’t. But the more I think about it, the more I believe it is something. How can 32 to 39 be relevant and 65 to anything else isn’t? How can 65 be grouped with 85? Does reaching the last box mean we just don’t matter anymore? Fortunately there’s a space at the end of their survey for additional comments. Good, because as much as I love my on-line purchase I HATE your survey.
I turned 65 last month. A milestone birthday. I don’t feel especially sensitive about being 65 and it rolls easily off my tongue when anyone asks. The days of people acting surprised at my age are long gone and I’m actually pleased that I’m retired, carry a Medicare card and contemplating my Social Security. But it is a big deal if 65 and beyond is considered the insignificant last box. I know lots of people well into their 70’s and 80’s who are working and thriving and living their lives. They are anything but insignificant. And capturing their buying habits might just be eye-opening.
I haven’t run into age discomfort since I left corporate America. And while I hate to admit a stupid little box got to me, it clearly did. I realize my snarly comments on a survey won’t rescue 65 from the final box. But maybe it will make someone rethink what it means to put someone in a box. Especially if it’s a final box.