Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, April 10, 2021

“Of all the people in human history who ever reached the age of 65, half are alive now.” That’s how New Scientist consultant Fred Pearce frames the ever-aging global population, and how longer lifespans are a positive development for the world.

He does draw conclusions about resultant societal behavior that, while logical, I think are false:

If the 20th century was the teenage century, the 21st will be the age of the old: it will be pioneered by the ageing baby boomers who a generation ago took the cult of youth to new heights. Without the soaring population and so many young overachievers, the tribal elders will return. More boring maybe, but wiser, surely.

The older we are, the less likely we are to be hooked on the latest gizmos and the more we should appreciate things that last. We may even reduce pressure on the world’s resources by consuming less, and by conserving our environment more.

Granted, the numbers will win out, with more elderly calling the shots. But to imagine that this demographic will embrace their own states of being as the socio-cultural ideal is naive. The fact is, I think youth culture will become more idealized and aspired toward, even as it becomes more chronologically removed from most people’s lives.

We’re already seeing that, as true behavioral “adulthood” is now deferred, in favor of clinging to the nostalgic trappings of youth. Why don’t people embrace their maturity? I think it’s because, as our life expectancies get ever longer, the portion that’s spent in youthful years (childhood to early 20s) becomes an ever-decreasing percentage of our total life experience. So, our youthful years actually become a relatively briefer, more precious chapter of life. That’s why youth culture gets elevated as a rarefied experience, celebrated ever more intensely by virtue of that.

That’s what’s going to happen in this century, because that’s what happened last century:

Socially, you’d think the youth culture would be supplanted due to sheer numbers; but really, the history of the 20th Century argues just the opposite. As lifespans stretched, younger tastes and sensibilities came to define the zeitgeist. No reason to think that’s going to change.

I think it’s a natural human impulse, based on little more than scarcity and inattainability: Anything you can’t have (or, in this case, get back), you want that much more. The same principle applies to societal standards of beauty, and the like. The aging majority may rule, but they’ll still pine for the rarer quality of youth.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/10/2021 07:36pm
Category: Pop Culture, Society
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    It’s been the mass medium of choice for the past half-century-plus. So it’s only appropriate that TV is now showing its age, demographically: The median age for viewers at [CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox] is now 51. The broadcasters’ audience…

    Trackback by Population Statistic — 08/16/2010 @ 11:38 PM

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