Tuesday August 22nd 2017

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Aging Boomers Become The Flat Age Society

agePhoto illustrations by Zachary Scott for The New York Times.

Have you noticed?  People over 45 don’t “act their age”?  And what exactly does acting one’s age mean, anyway?  We live in a time of physical augmentation and augmented reality as the norm.  At the same time, we live in a time of radical redefinition of the term “aging”.  What exactly does aging mean?

Neither of my parents are traditional when it comes to “acting their age”.  So I didn’t get the memo that said:  When you turn 50, hang it up,  start becoming a senior citizen, and generally shift into low gear.

And I’m not the only one.  Turns out, that may be more than coincidence.  Being youthful, and in the moment, takes more than an outlook.

Science is finding that when we are “actively making new distinctions, rather than relying on habitual” categorizations, we’re alive; and when we’re alive, we can improve.

Check out the work of psychologist, Ellen Langer in The New York Times Magazine, last week.  She has worked with this thinking for the last thirty years, and it doesn’t seem she’s destined to stop, as in this decade, the global population of elderly consumers is set to swell by 200 million.

By 2050, Boomers are expected to reach 2 billion, that’s BILLION people with a B, and, of course, marketers are noticing too.  With this attention, a new term for the “Baby Boomer” is emerging:

The Flat Age Society reflects the notion that most first world people in this demo/psychographic are aware of:  The ability to flatten aging, as opposed to aging as perhaps their parents and, most certainly, their grandparents accepted as inevitable.  The Future Laboratory’s editor-in-chief Martin Raymond and senior journalist Sonia Cooke discuss in the video below.

Trend Briefing SS14 London : The Flat Age Society from The Future Laboratory on Vimeo.

As we begin to see older women represented in popular culture, as attractive, vital and relevant; conversations open up about aging, and how the pressures of staying youthful impact women both in and out of Hollywood.

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Frances McDormand is a case in point as she ventures into territory most actresses avoid:

“We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species,” she said. “There’s no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It’s not seen as a gift. Something happened culturally: No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face.”

francesWith 2 billion! of us entering into the next era of aging (and consuming), perhaps the Flat Age Society will expand the idea of aging with choices, and the effect will be that we become more comfortable doing so.

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