I am planning to start a post apocalypse centered web comic, however apocalypse is more social in nature, i.e no zombies or nukes for you.

In near future AGII (Acute Gerontophobia Inducing Infection, pronounced "ajee") virus broke out, everyone infected starts to experience strong, irrational prejudice against senior peers, older the person (after around 25) stronger the prejudice against them. Virus affects hypothalamus and overdrives innate, tribal, pack mentality based ageism in people. While virus does not make populace directly agressive, people become extremely reluctant to help or communicate with people who show signs of aging.

How does society adapt in long term with AGII virus breakout ?

Additional details:

  • When people get old they still experience hatred towards peers older than them, however 60 y/o will still dislike 40.
  • Mechanism works similarly how aurosal, fear or disgust works. E.g when you see someone you like you get aurosed, see lion get scared, see tapeworm get disgusted. Same chemistry here.
  • Every sense is important a bit. Looking, smelling, moving like younger can migitiate hate but won't make it go completely.
  • Virus does not do anything fancy, like turning people into hivemind or causing rage. 30 y/o will simply ostensibly avoid working with 40 y/o for example, he will go to other room. Nurses will avoid working in senior care home for example, unless paid 6 figure.
  • Intensity increases with age difference.g 30 y/o will avoid any contact and communication with 70 y/o unless absolutely necessary. But will still cooperate with 50 y/o very rarely but won't tolerate daily presence.
  • Being family member migitiates effect to extent, but friendship,partnership or othet avoidable bond is very unlikely.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What happens when infected start getting older? What is the exact science behind knowing who to hate? Is it looks or manner of acting or smell or what? Are people infected aware that they will age? If someone older looks younger, surgery or makeup or whatever, what happens? Are the laws changing in anyway? Does the virus bring the infected together in a hivemind or cooperation mentality ? Like do they want to eradicate older people? Put them in homes?.etc Intensity changes with age? Feelings towards family or friends? Side effects? What exactly do they feel when they see older people? $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Sep 12, 2020 at 21:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Did the anti-ageing industry sponsor the development of your virus? $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Sep 12, 2020 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ Hello Gurevich, welcome to Worldbuilding. Stack Exchange's basic model is one-specific-question/one-best-answer. What you're asking is too broad. Answers would fit from my little sister's daughter to the international law governing whaling (believe me, I can fit age-related issues into everything between those two and a LOT more). We can't write your story for you. Do you have a specific question about this issue? What one level of government or demography are you asking about? What existing Earth location best correlates to the perspective you want used for the response? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 12, 2020 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ (Because Europeans will act differently compared to Asians compared to Central Americans....). Also, please note that a very similar question was recently asked that you should consider and specifically identify why it doesn't answer your question. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Sep 12, 2020 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ Your question seems to make a lot of assumptions about how people's brains work that are highly opinion-based, so it becomes problematic to be able to answer them. It implies everyone over thirty is going to be prejudiced to death, and humans are incapable of resisting innate drives to discriminate when a prejudice is present. Even racists can work with minorities; it's just hard. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Sep 13, 2020 at 13:29

3 Answers 3



  • Global political shift

Demagogues, demagogues everywhere.

This is the first of the major changes I can see. As we have millions of voters capable of changing elections, thus laws and governments, then the rise of a younger generation of political leaders is inevitable.

Their entire political agenda is basically youth polities.

The success of such politicians is likely a complicated matter as in this day and age the ability to reach millions of younger, yep young thus more connected, voters insures that the government can start becoming slowly changing.

This process will be different as certain places have different systems and complicated political structure but as long as you have millions of young people who are willing to go elections and the election is free then you will have more of those politicians.

No amount of media watching or reading is going to change the younger generations view. The richest person alive can't influence you to submerge yourself in acid so no matter how large an entity wants person A to be the president the hardwiring will win.

However since you still have older people the global political scene will be more about age politics rather than left or right, or whatever it is before.

This will bring about all sort of large scale changes.

For example a 20 old parliament member is liking going to discuss cutting funds to the seniors programs for obvious reasons.

This won't be lets burn gather them and burn them up but rather more subtle and more devious ways to "handle" older people.

First you go with obvious stuff. No driving past a certain age. Mandatory sanity checks to determine if they can life on their own. Less medical coverage. Even stripping them of their political voting rights based on the idea that the older you are the less you are intelligent so no voting. This goes into all sorts of things as well. Jobs, can't keep the same position after a certain number of years. Maybe even property.

All those are just examples of proposed laws. Some of them are not that radical even. But with more traction and millions of supporters then I leave it to you to implement whatever suits your world.

Interesting point. The more a dictatorship a place is the less likely it would change.

  • Messed up relationships and society.

Well. This is just a reasonable thing to assume. You excluded immediate family but strangers are free game. So forget about leaving the seat for an elderly man at public transportation.

But this if far more screwed up. Maybe they dislike classical composers and writers. So bye bye older works.

But even if not the overall society is going to be worse than low level discrimination of any type. Because even if your society was racist only a few badly racist and many people don't care much. But hard coded discrimination against older people is far worse.

It simply insures that 100% of the people are 100% awful all the time.

This gets worse when it is combined with more aggressive people as they won't balk at actual bodily harm.

But also this society won't have a person falling in love with a 10 year difference.

You will must likely not go to piano or metalworking class because the teacher is older.

Heck maybe even films and TV is changed as just seeing an older person makes you dislike them.

So a 35 yo pregnant women is drowning? LMAO.

That parking spot in front of our building belongs to the old man next door? Call the cops.

Even chit chat with random strangers or older people is off the limits.

  • Discrimination with the blessing of the whole world.

Ethnic group A might be discriminated against. But as companies found out they make as good workers as the rest of people and in turn they make good buyers. Discrimination is bad.

Sexual attraction sometimes extends beyond your ethnic group.

Friendships and shared interests.

All those reasons helps to make sure that a reasonable society treats all humans equally. Sooner or later at least. Yes we did have problem but context people.

And we did actually end legal discrimination in most sense. But I don't want this to be about politics. I just want to give an example

I am more likely to be friends with someone from another ethnic group that is nice to me and we do stuff together than a bully of my own ethnicity.

This is why older discrimination is mostly society and bad people and so on.

But the new one?

OH boy. Hardwired into the brain with an uncontrollable reaction to those people.

You don't feel that, unless almost brainwashed, towards other people ever.

But the infected do and that makes sure that the whole worlds changes.

Lets start small.

Mall A has age restrictions. Guess which mall is making more money? So mall B right across the corner does the same otherwise they start losing money.

Expand all the way to the mega corporations of today. Catering to certain groups and following the directions of the money spenders is economy 101.

Again you can introduce levels of that as you see fit.

Just understand that such a strong prejudice against a large groups will echo in the world of business, ads, job market...etc.

  • Experience is going to be a problem.

I think by now you will get me when I say that experience in a certain job mostly comes with time and with time also age.

This is going to be manifested in every field with great levels of difference.

The military is an obvious institute. Can training make people overcome this hatred? You can find an answer.

But for the academic field and most work this is bad.

A 70 professor who might be viewed as a sweet old man and a walking encyclopedia in his field will be view with hatred in your world.

So will we see segregation based on age in the job market?

Perhaps in certain jobs. But as the job becomes complicated then we can see segregation in the work place and usage of non human communication.

Say department B needs department A to do something but they are of different ages, then it is far better to have that request in writing via email or something similar.

Or just in having the work space be completely closed on people as to prevent you from seeing others that will invoke a strong reaction.

  • Schools!

I can't imagine what schools will be like. Just a nightmare. I mean school is a Lovecraftian horror filled pit of hell on the best days.

  • More crimes.

Here not only have you amanged to eliminated the natural human sympathy but you even introduced hatred in 100% of people. This is not an issue as fear of the law and efficient policing exists so you can expect people to follow the law.

But with such a large group and such strong hatred it only makes sense that the most vocal and violent groups and individuals will be willing to commit crimes of all sorts.

Perhaps just violence or low key stuff. As we all know willingness to kill or really hurt is not easy.

But again with such a large pool you also enlarging the pool of criminals with all sorts of crimes.

So expect even insults and rudeness to be the norm.

  • Makeup, prosthetics, and surgery.

I shudder to think of the implication of that idea. In the more extreme cases you will have to wake up a full 2 hours earlier to apply a bunch of stuff, including Hollywood levels stuff, just to get to work in peace and live in peace.

This will also mark an increase in oriental teas and perfumes and all sorts of fake products that will claim to make you 20 years older or younger.

So as usual the actual stuff is going to be a lot more boring and time consuming. Layers of makeup. Fake bit of the face, surgery...etc

Insanely strong perfumes to mask your smell. Even continues injections and homemade de aging or aging machines.

I expect those stuff to be sold by the dozen at every corner

  • Some are not like that

when you see someone you like you get aurosed, see lion get scared, see tapeworm get disgusted

I could argue that what you describe is easy to overcome for most people. You can train yourself to face tanks and lions and sharks. You can train yourself to eat anything. Arousal is a tougher thing but you can control. Not to mention that sometimes we see someone we dislike so much that we want to engage is sexual activities with in a certain manner.

However that seems to be counter intuitive so I will simply say that there will always be few that will learn to look beyond that and they will be the better for it.

A company that can recruit people with such huge gaps in age can do better. Personally if you are willing to listen and deal with people based on pragmatic terms in is better...etc.

  • Wealth and ghettos.

Wealth complicates thing because if I have to clean the pool of the 50 year old couple to get some money then it might only add to the hatred. But even the larger context is present in the job market or life.

In fact the older most people get the more wealth and influence, on whatever level that is, they gather and so that might add to hatred.

And the ghettos part is self explanatory. If you are not wealthy have guards and dogs and cameras then a little suburbs where only the elderly live makes more sense.

  • The Matthew effect exists.

Whenever I read a question with a thing I always consider the Matthew effect on the matter.

Here is an example

A is a handsome genius born to billionaire caring and good parents then inherited their wealth, but also he is industrious and diligent and ambitious.

That man should have the world and continue to grow in wealth. Actual billionaires as an example.

But B is born a sickly average child to power middle class parents. Yeah. Not looking good for him.

So things usually go further than the original premise. So that is why I tried to push certain ideas to the max.

I hope it helps. I get that this is a big question actually so guess you can ask in a certain context if you more more specific answers

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    $\begingroup$ It's scary how close is this answer to reality. And also "political scene will be more about age politics rather than left or right", you basically described most of developing and post soviet bloc. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2020 at 8:53

I do not think humanity would survive in the long term.

I'm sure you're aware of the adages "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it" and "The wise man learns from other's experience, the fool from his own." You have set up a society where both problems are extreme.

The result will be rash proposals that would normally be tempered by the wisdom of time, but not in this case--the course of state will become a series of violent maneuvers rather than a gentle hand at the till, the swings will get wilder and wilder overreacting to every mistake until things go badly enough to crash the grid. Once that happens Earth will be far beyond it's carrying capacity and it's unlikely the population will shrink in a peaceable fashion.


Paradoxical Effect:

I propose that such a virus would result in a very paradoxical effect: the laws would become hyper-protective of the elderly, and seniors might be able to dominate society and get anything they want. This is coming from the prospective of US law and constitutional protections, but I suspect a similar effect would occur in other cultures.

The world follows money, and the elderly have it. All the wealth and inheritance of a lifetime means the older and more despised a person got, the more money they would have. Everyone gets old eventually, and everyone knows that laws discriminating against ALL seniors will bite them in a few years.

Further, seniors could easily demonstrate that those younger than them were incapable of impartiality and fairness. The laws today are written on the assumption people can choose and those who can't are denied the right to do so. A senior could demand that only a judge older than them oversee a legal case. A younger police officer couldn't even pretend they were being fair, as they would be incapable of it. The rulership of the USA is founded on favoring the old in the presidency and supreme court (no where is there a whiter-haired group).

Some of the details of how this would play out are dependent on the exact nature of the pathology. If it is purely organic, then people will be conscious of their own intrinsic biases, but unable to help themselves. They would WANT to help the elderly, but find themselves unable to do so. Some odd solutions present themselves to this dilemma. Everyone over the age of 25 could start wearing concealing garb, covering the outward signs of age. Something akin to the garments Muslim women wear as part of their religious practice, and for pretty much the same underlying reasons. The good people of the world, freed from the blatant presence of age, could treat people according to their need, not appearance. COVID is also a good model for this. The physical interaction of people would be kept to a minimum, but society would restructure to serve and protect the elderly. Legal assurances would make helping those with disabilities compulsory, so a senior might swagger onto a bus, demanding preferential seating, possibly threatening people with legal action or pulling a gun and threatening violence. Try to prove they are unreasonable when you know for a fact you are being mentally influenced.

The internet would be a great help in assuring impartiality. Everyone could either be anonymous, or have a young virtual presence. Revealing someone's true age could get you arrested - it would be akin to hate speech, but worse.

Since the effect seems to kick in around 25, there would be a strong compelling reason to have young teens performing the services of nurses and aids. This also maximizes the chances for young people to gain exposure to the wisdom of their elders. If it was bad enough, there might even be a compulsory service, like the draft, so there were enough people to care for the elderly. Elderly doctors would be at a premium, and medical supervisors would need to distance-monitor their young employees caring for their seniors.

One partial solution would be segregation. Towns could be populated based on one's age. All the citizens could be within a few years of age, and most of the work could be done by the people in the town. If outside workers were needed, they could socially distance from the locals as they did their jobs.

Again, the fact that the very young are unaffected would be a huge help. The onset of the virus could be the end of a very lucrative part of people's lives. Since those of young child-bearing age couldn't be trusted to treat others fairly, they would likely be treated unfairly in hiring practices. Parents might look forward to the day their young teens would be old enough to help support them in their middle age.

You could even have some very strange effects on voting. Since those in their young adulthood would be the least trusted, they might lose the right to vote, much like felons or the mentally ill. You might have a graded voting system, based on age-trustworthiness. Young teens 13-18 might gain the right to vote, as they would be capable of impartiality.

  • $\begingroup$ In relation to money and influence in your second paragraph, also remember most politicians are senior. For example in the USA the average politician age is about 60. I'd think this would be more influential than older people having more money. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Sep 16, 2020 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron I avoided this detail because seniors will rapidly find themselves losing votes with anyone under their current age. Maybe they'll need to ban events and ads that actually show anything but the person as they were at age 25. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Sep 16, 2020 at 20:59

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