I was really not born at the time when the joke, the senior personnel shared, was popular . I smiled with the crowd, but it was obvious for everyone that I did not get the joke. This happened in a workplace meeting. Even if I was not born at that time when the joke was invented/popular, is it acceptable to make such a comment, when I hardly know the person who said it.

Being from a different country, I may not know the joke even if I was of their age (add 30 to my age) So I am curious to know if the statement "You were not born at that time" Is an insulting statement in USA workplace meeting ?

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    This is a troll bait question. That's why.
    – Jack
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 5:26
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    This is too short for an answer, so I'll leave it as a comment instead. "You weren't born then" isn't a disparagement to you, it's just an indication of the old age of the joke in question. It's a common enough idiom of western language.
    – user44108
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 6:24
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    If it's true and all it indicates that you're younger, why would you feel insulted? Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 9:32
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    Having reached an age where I sometimes find myself saying things like this to MY coworkers, I can assure you of two things: 1) it is not an insult to you, merely an explanation for why you probably don't get it. 2) saying it probably makes HIM feel worse than you, because he's reminding himself of how old he is and how young you are.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 13:49
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    I wouldn't call it "hazing" really - I imagine the joke came up spontaneously between older co-workers who remembered the context. Pointing out that you're too young was just an observation when they saw that you weren't "getting it." The envy comes along naturally with reminding himself he's old, but it wasn't the purpose of his saying that.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 3:34

3 Answers 3


Probably not.

Having recently entered into the workplace from out of college and currently working with people significantly older than me, I get involved in a lot of humor that I reasonably would not know about, either because I wasn't born at the time or I wasn't working at that location for long enough. Nothing wrong with it, since it's generally true.

If anything, you should probably be happy that you got that explanation. Means your coworkers are interested in making sure you understand the joke.

  • Well, they did not explain the joke, but left me with that comment and went back to discussion. Add to the fire that I have been in and out of college and work multiple times (for BS, MBA, MS) , that I am not a fresh out of college , though I actually am, If you know what I mean.
    – AAI
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 1:40
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    @ABCD Bad wording on my part, maybe. They may not have provided an explicit end-to-end explanation, but they gave you context. By which I mean, they didn't just laugh around you and ignore you. Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 1:42
  • That is some solace. True.
    – AAI
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 1:43

I guess it depends on the context, if you knew the person and they were joking around then fair go.

But since you say it's someone you're not familiar with in a workplace environment, I'd say it is inappropriate. Why does this person feel the need to point this out and attribute your lack of exposure to this 'joke' to your age. How would they know how old you are and if you hadn't studied or talked about the guy's jokes with someone else?

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    The OP mentions an age gap of 30 years; that's generally quite plainly visible.
    – Erik
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 9:04

Odds are, it is just a joke you happened to wander into and become part of. Just ignore/endure.

If this is a recurring theme, then it is certainly subversive and should be dealt with. This is a supression that is easily countered. The appeal to age can be countered by the fact that old people die soon, and a gentle reminder of that fact usually blunts the offense.

("Imagine - in 30 years, I'll be saying that and you'll be dead. Funny that.")

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