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On Changing Demographics Brackets

"Aged" by tonyhall, cc-licensed

“Aged” by tonyhall, cc-licensed

A few quick thoughts on now being 35, and thus leaving the market-swaying 18-34 demographic

  • You know that I’ve been a Columbo fan for a long time, but between birthday money and gifts from Jenny, I’m now a superfan, an owner of the whole series and all the television movies.  “Just one more thing” indeed.
  • Camping last weekend, my nephew 13-year old nephew, Jacob, teasingly suggested that I was a “cool dad” while his dad was an “old dad.”  Mock-anger from Scott, the father, before he and I agreed that if this were the extent of Jacob’s Oedipal rebellion, Scott would have had a remarkably easy time of it.  A quick calculation told me that in relative terms, I was only two years younger than Scott (when my oldest is thirteen, I’ll be two years younger).
  • I might lament that my choices in entertainment and products no longer have the zest they used to, except that for me to extoll the values of an entertainment property seems more like sounding its death knell than a positive endorsement could help.  To whit, see all the television shows that have been cancelled after I started watching them.
  • I’m a gamer who has almost no time to game.  I love video games, role-playing games, and board games.  Yet I have relatively little time to play them — often just two or three hours a week thanks to a regular role-playing game time slot.  Ever since reading Cognitive Surplus, of course, I’m followed by a little Shirky on my shoulder who reminds me that the time used for all that television I watch could be used in other ways.
  • Each year I feel a little more lucky to be who I am when I am, and a little more compelled to try and help others live the most full lives they can.  Say what you will about Bill and Melinda Gates, the motto for their foundation, “All Lives Have Equal Value” demands a certain amount of action and self-reflection from any first-worlder, especially someone lucky enough to be middle class or better.  (On a related note, I find myself more content with the enlightenment, humanist worldview that accepts this world for what it is without spending too much time imagining the next.  Viz the Tim Minchin quote at the bottom.)

It’s interesting to ponder the demographic line, just another of the many ways we divide up populations and suggest that they belong to one group or another.  In the age of niche marketing, cookie-tracked web browsing, and discount clubs at every store we visit, it becomes extremely clear how such broad categories as Everyone between 35 and 55 fail.  You can’t fit me in one of your boxes, man.

From Tim Minchin’s “Storm,” a beat poem account of a conversation he had with a alt-medicine enthusiast at a dinner party (the “hippie” he refers to at the end).

Tim MinchinIsn’t this enough?
Just this world?
Just this beautiful, complex
Wonderfully unfathomable world?
How does it so fail to hold our attention
That we have to diminish it with the invention
Of cheap, man-made Myths and Monsters?
If you’re so into Shakespeare
Lend me your ear:
“To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw perfume on the violet… is just fucking silly”
Or something like that.
Or what about Satchmo?!
I see trees of Green,
Red roses too,
And fine, if you wish to
Glorify Krishna and Vishnu
In a post-colonial, condescending
Bottled-up and labeled kind of way
That’s ok.
But here’s what gives me a hard-on:
I am a tiny, insignificant, ignorant lump of carbon.
I have one life, and it is short
And unimportant…
But thanks to recent scientific advances
I get to live twice as long as my great great great great uncles and auntses.
Twice as long to live this life of mine
Twice as long to love this wife of mine
Twice as many years of friends and wine
Of sharing curries and getting shitty
With good-looking hippies
With fairies on their spines
And butterflies on their titties.
(hear the poem on Youtube)

It’s the last point he makes — before he speculates about his dinner companion’s body art — that really gets me.  For most of human history, I wouldn’t be approaching middle age, I would be old.  Living to 40 would have been an accomplishment.  Like I said, lucky.


{ 1 } Comments

  1. Ryan | 24 June 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I think that because the natural “adaptiveness” my generation (those born between 1985 and 1995) have towards culture, media, and technology, demographics and ideals of adulthood will radically start to changing within the next decade. No longer will younger generations be a step ahead of their parents in terms of technology and understanding but instead the majority of new and soon-to-be parents will – for the first time – be ahead or at least on the same level of their kids in many ways. The natural “adaptiveness” we’ve had growing up will be with us the rest of our lives and will only benefit our own lives and the lives of our kids as well.

    So while I almost certainly know I’ll be playing videogames at 35 (albeit in a different form) it won’t be a culturally strange thing at that point simply because that’s common of my generation. It’s the same as many parents today who still party occasionally and rock out to The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd because that was apart of their generation. You don’t just “lose” your tastes and personality once you hit a certain age. Even today I think that so called “market-swaying demographic” is starting to expand the age range higher because of said facts and will continue to change as we move forward. Of course the older demographic will never be as powerfully impressionable as teenagers will always be but

    And going along with your nephew thing, any dad today who’s into videogames and zombies would naturally be cooler than a dad who isn’t to any young boy. When I was at camp there was another counselor who was only two years older than me but had a much more “adult-like” personality (he was a teacher and had a more professional appearance). Because of this almost all of my kids thought he was old and in his thirties while they insist I was younger and around 18 years old (when in fact I was 23) because of my appearance and personality. So my theory is that the cultural gap is undoubtedly more profound today than any actual age gap has ever been. And you’re little experience further supports my idea.

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