Unlike the RPG (role playing game) genre of video games, ‘leveling up’ in real life does not lead to greater health, vitality, ability to carry potions or even slay dragons for experience points. Instead, progressing through life is the equivalent of the first thirty minutes of a Metroid video game, in which your impressive earlier powers are quickly taken from you – powers such as being able to independently control your bowels, recognize grandchildren and own a full set of teeth.
In other words, growing old is a fate that none of us particularly look forward to, though it does have perks. The elderly enjoy free public transport, an incredible talent to suck on mints for hours and, of course, the ability to say whatever comes out of their mouth – even if it’s sometimes racist or is uttered without any hope of finishing the sentence – without any societal judgment. Not to mention they can ruffle the hair of youngsters and smile at them afterwards whenever they feel like it.
Even if the bodies of the elderly begin to inhibit their daily lifestyle, they know that, in general, society no longer discriminates against the elderly, especially not after we all cried at the beginning of Pixar’s Up.
Early in 2013, however, Facebook were forced to admit that they had actually adopted the rules of video game RPG and set a leveling cap on the site - nobody over the age of 99 could register. Tell that to 104-year-old Michigan resident Marguerite Joseph, who received an apology from Facebook for having to lie about her age to sign up. That’s right; Facebook made a really sweet old lady upset.
Marguerite was born in 1908, four years before the Titanic sank, and is legally blind and can’t hear, though it is unclear if that means she was lucky enough to bypass ‘My Heart Will Go On’ from the sinking’s 1997 film adaptation. Marguerite’s granddaughter reads and responds to all messages the elderly woman gets, hopefully none of which are ever sexual in nature.
To their credit, Facebook did eventually respond, with spokesman Andrew Noyes telling The Associated Press: "We've recently discovered an issue whereby some Facebook users may be unable to enter a birthday before 1910. We are working on a fix for this and we apologize for the inconvenience." By the time you have read this, Andrew will have already suffered the hair ruffling of a lifetime.