POST 50
02/25/2016 04:13 pm ET

Watch How A Headline Turns A Nice Story Ageist

Four guys start singing on a plane and is all is well until someone calls them old.
Jupiterimages via Getty Images

About a year ago, a video was posted to YouTube by a US Airways flight attendant who had asked the barbershop quartet on board if they'd sing a number to entertain their fellow passengers during a delay in takeoff. The quartet obliged.

Like a lot of things online, the video is making the rounds again now. But this time, people are noticing a few other things about it. For one, the Are You Gonna Cry Too? Facebook page used it with a headline that said "It Was Just A Regular Flight, Until These Old Men Blew Everyone Away..."

"Old?" Really? I suppose that depends on how many candles were on your last birthday cake. From my vantage point, these guys aren't old. In fact, I may have babysat a couple of them. But more to the point, why does their age even merit a mention in the headline? Score one for ageism creeping into the language. The headline writer could just have easily have called them all "sweatered" or "spectacle-wearing." Nothing about the story has anything to do with sweaters or eyeglasses -- or their ages, yet they were described in the headline as "old."

Even the comments picked up the microaggression ball and ran with it. 

"What sweet talented men! music keeps the soul young," posted a Nevada woman, presumably meaning no harm. "Sweet?" I'd agree with talented, but "sweet" is one of those "adorable" words that make older people cringe. As for music keeping the soul "young," isn't there an inference here that young is better? I don't know about you, but I'd rather be my age than have to relive high school.

One commenter, in true Internet fashion, took it crude and nasty fairly quickly. He wrote: "This is your captain speaking: "We need 4 Viagras and 4 pussies asap for row 7. Over and out." Yeah, barrel of laughs, that guy.

Or this one: "Alzheimer's was kicking in... crazy old bastards thought they were at the Boardwalk. Luckily nobody allowed them to open the door to see "the people walking above." Anyone up for a cancer joke while we're at it? 

I purport that the headline that unnecessarily (and inaccurately) called them old signaled permission for commenters to belittle the men.

Now granted, the majority of the responses were positive and reinforced what a great surprise this was for the passengers on board this otherwise miserable flight to New Orleans. But the "old" in the headline? Just couldn't get passed it.

I also loved this observation from a mid-lifer when we shared the video: "Took almost the whole song for a few of the passengers to get off their cellphones." she wrote.

As far as the video goes, it's music to our ears.

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