Sunday, 10 March 2013

Age Ain't Nothin' But a... What Was I Saying?

I've recently had two separate conversations with friends - one on Skype and the other on Twitter - where I've had it suggested to me that I'm not young anymore. The one on Skype was particularly funny, because I mentioned that I was making long-term plans, and my friend responded by saying something to the effect of, "Hang on, we're not getting any younger." The other one just suggested that at 33, we can't really be considered young anymore.

Hang on, what?

But is this really true? I'm not suggesting there's no difference between me in 2013 and me in 2003 - I've aged physically, of course, and my outlook is (hopefully) more mature than it was back then. But if I'm not young, that invites the suggestion, rightly or wrongly, that I've become old. Or, if you argue, as my friend did, that we aren't old either, does that make us middle-aged?

I think two factors are at work here. One is the fact that my friends and I, like generations before us, have starting noticing certain things after we passed thirty. Things start to creak a little more, and we recover less quickly from things like injuries or hangovers than we used to; a few of us have lost hair, and all of us are finding that we don't really need or want to shovel as much junk down our gullets as we did in our twenties. If you're of a particularly morbid mindset, like me, you may have started worrying about aging and what your life will be like in ten, twenty, thirty years. It's a truism, but no less accurate, that fear of death and aging doesn't quite start to hit you in the gut until your thirties. That's my experience, at any rate.

At the same time, it looks kind of like society's getting more and more youth-obsessed; at least, it is in the US and (I'd say) in the UK. Again, this is nothing new - but it's interesting to think that I'm on the wrong side of that now. It's almost guaranteed that I'll be older than any up-and-coming actors or singers, of either sex.

For instance...

When you add to that the fact that the 18-24 demographic is the most sought-after for the entertainment industry, it's even more interesting - I'm of less interest to advertisers now than I was ten years ago, even though I'm more likely to have more disposable income to actually buy the crap they're foisting on us.

I'm not saying it should be different, of course - the entertainment industry is what it is (I say from outside said industry), and I think I'd go crazy if I was sitting here railing against it. But at a personal level, I think we can recognize that we ourselves aren't quite ready for the retirement home.

I've been guilty of it myself at various times, including giving older folks a rather skeptical look every time they'd refer to me as "young". But it helps to remember that, logically, at 33 I haven't yet reached the mid-point of my biblical three-score and ten; and more to the point, we're expecting to live longer and longer (I even talked about this changing perception of age in a previous blog post). It also helps to be aware of the fact that, while you will slow down with age, there's nothing that says you have to get more and more decrepit with each passing year (my dad once said he planned to continue downhill skiing until he was 80, at which point he'd switch to cross-country).

So, yeah, I'll continue making long-term plans, for the foreseeable future. I'll stop when I get to 90 - unless, by that time, I can expect to get to 120. Haven't decided if I'll keep running marathons, though.