“I don’t think of myself as old.” That’s the battle cry. As long as you can say that, you’re winning, right?
But you really will be old one day. Your secret fear of age will come home to roost. Then what?
Here’s my recommendation: starting now, become unafraid of aging.
How you do that is to first recognize where that fear is coming from. It’s induced by the culture, which is heavily—no, PRIMARILY—shaped by media. And media is shaped by advertising, marketing, and selling.
Anxiety is a sales tool. It makes us want to buy things.
Anxiety (fear) sells pills, lotions, potions, insurance, guns, prisons, and political candidates. Good news doesn’t sell anything, which is why you don’t get equal media brainwashing about the positive. Like the fact that around age 50, we start getting happier. Or that our brains work better in many ways.
So now you know you’re being brainwashed, you can laugh at the stupid media portrayal of us as doddering old fools or skateboarding freaks. The majority of us are in the normal middle.
Want to know what’s crazy? If advertisers stopped trying to scare us into buying stuff, they’d still sell us billions of dollars of goods and services.
This is because, contrary to conventional “wisdom,” older people constitute an exploding market! Here’s an excerpt from Time Magazine’s article, “Your Longevity is Good for Business,” by Dan Kadlec, who asks why businesses aren’t targeting people over 50.
This is a global market nearly the size of China, and it is entirely new in the sense that people this age have never before had so much spending power, staying power and ambition.
Why are advertisers still stuck in the 1950s? My guess is that most advertisers are young, thanks to age discrimination in the workplace, and don’t understand old people. And then there’s the fact that older age is changing for the better but the culture is slow to realize it (self-fulfilling prophesy, anyone?)
“The problem is a total absence of imagination,” says Joseph Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab, which studies longevity. “Marketers still present these years as filled with golf, cruises and a rocking chair.”
“That model of later life may be dated, but it’s a struggle to fully understand what is replacing it. Here’s the way experts on aging describe it: People past 50 control 70% of the nation’s disposable income. If they aren’t working, they may be volunteering, starting a small business or nonprofit, or taking enrichment classes. Many remain socially active and want to look and feel great–and will spend to get that experience.”
If marketers dropped the ageist stereotyping, they could make more money. And we older people would be happier and better served.