JR Forasteros expands quite thoroughly on Seth Godin’s recent post, “Fifty is the new Thirty”. Essentially Godin states that as the Baby Boomer generation ages they are redefining the culture. To the extent that those that are in their fifties have a lifestyle and appearance that was once socially expected of thirty year olds.
Godin goes on to explain that this shift in our cultural behavior is a challenge to those marketing products and services.
It changes the marketing of every service and product aimed at consumers–and yet most traditional advertisers are stuck in the mindset that thirty is the end of your chance to find a new customer or build a new brand.
From here Forasteros expounds on the reasoning for a statement like Godin’s. Essentially we are living longer, so we have to adjust our norms to match that lifespan. For example, Social Security came about in 1935 and set the retirement age as 65, which just so happened to be the average life expectancy at the time. Since the 1930’s the average life expectancy has increased by 20 years. With such a dramatic shift, almost all age demographics have adjusted with exception to those in our twenties and younger.
Forasteros then cites The Wall Street Journal’s article “Where Have The Good Men Gone?”, which argues there is a common problem with men in their twenties living an extended adolescence.1 Forasteros challenges that mindset by asking what if these aren’t problems, but an evolution in our “cultural script”?
The reality is that the Script we expect everyone to follow isn’t sacred. It’s not - as its defenders would have us believe - some monolithic pattern that humans throughout history have followed unchanged since the beginning of time.
What it means to be a fully mature, robust adult changes from culture to culture. We didn’t even have public education until the last 200 years or so. Universities aren’t that old in the grand scheme of the human race. And in the Biblical World, a guy never left home to strike out on his own. He lived with his father until Dad died, then took over as the new patriarch.
I can certainly comprehend the idea of an extended adolescence. Look at the shift in movies2 in the last ten years or the average age of adults getting married. The Millennials are embracing their childhood longer and it has seeped well into the rest of the culture. But what do I know, my wife and I spent our evening yesterday gawking at some of the crazy shows we grew up with in the late 80’s and early 90’s.