Examining Out of Touch Old White Guy Disorder
Aaron Perlut | Partner

Knowing that I am white and may possibly age at one point in my lifetime, years ago I launched a research initiative with a group of scientists in The Hague. We discovered a group of fascinating test subjects having the propensity towards becoming increasingly out-of-touch with the realities of progress that surround humankind at every turn. This affliction — as now recognized by the World Health Organization or WHO — is clinically known as Out of Touch Old White Guy Disorder or OTOWG 40+.

Through clinical analysis during studies in The Hague and Newark, Delaware of OTOWG 40+ patients, certain behavior patterns appear both in labs and the wild over and over and over again. Typically, OTOWG 40+ manifests itself through an aggregate of riboflavin and mirror reflections, commonly appearing in self-absorbed senior business leaders, largely white men, seeing themselves as heroic leaders who are too insecure to recognize the need to adapt and expand their horizons.

OTOWG 40+ sufferers are known to have criticized rap music in the ’80s before ever hearing it, called Facebook a “fad” between 2007 – 10, and at one point suggested the world was coming to an end due to the use of iPhones, texting, TikTok, electric cars, hyphenated names, gluten-free diets — yet have now adopted much or all of it.

In one case study conducted in the wild, a senior white male at a publicly traded company stated, “Let me tell you why you couldn’t be more wrong,” when presented with a concept he did not comprehend. One white male business owner of a mid-size organization – in between casual misogynist and anti-LGBTQ+ comments – also noted he was tired of “all the ideas coming from my side of the table” before being reminded of some 30,000 ideas he’d been pitched but passed on out of fear.

Ultimately, studies have demonstrated the data to be irrefutable as, whether test subjects suffer from OTOWG 40+, most humans do not instinctively react well to change. However, there is hope as studies demonstrate those who persevere and succeed tend to show a willingness to be open-minded enough to adapt, learn new skills, grow and never use the euphemism “old dogs can’t learn new tricks.”

I initially undertook this research because I was, in fact, showing signs of early-onset OTOWG 40+ after years of unfairly poking fun at my aunt and sister-in-law for using their maiden names and chiding teens who texted all the time. But I went through the appropriate treatments consisting of paying attention to reality and not sticking one’s head in the sand, and today I text like there’s no tomorrow and periodically use the maiden names of both my sister-in-law and aunt.

Therefore, if you find yourself growing increasingly frustrated with name-use pronouns, struggle to pronounce social media tools like Snapchat (pronounced SNAP-CHAT), use the phrase “you people” when discussing ethnic or racial demographics, hate twerking, or find yourself continually throwing out “Juneteenth” as a media relations concept yet do not know what that means —  you may suffer from OTOWG 40+.

Seek help immediately.

Aaron Perlut
Aaron Perlut is a cofounding partner of Elasticity with some 25 years of diverse experience in journalism, public relations and digital marketing. He is a former senior reputation management counselor at Omnicom company FleishmanHillard, as well as a communications executive for two of the nation's largest energy companies. Throughout his career, Perlut has counseled a range of organizations – Fortune 500s, state governments, professional sports franchises, economic development authorities, well-funded startups and large non-profits – helping manage reputation and market brands across a diverse channels in an evolving media environment.
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