Too Cool To Be Old
By Karen and Erica
Old. A colleague recently reprimanded us for using the term. She said the concept was a turnoff. We didn't disagree, but it has been our view that we cannot evade the real world by running from words we don't like. We think we have to confront them and repurpose them.
But we like to listen, so we thought about what she said. And we wondered about the meaning of "old." What is it exactly? Here are some thoughts from Merriam-Webster:
Dating from the remote past; of long standing; originating in a past era; advanced in years or age; showing the effects of time or use; no longer in use; of a grayish or dusty color; tiresome.
Well, yes, we are advanced in years. And we do not look like we were born yesterday. But most of these definitions do not describe the retired women--or men--that we know. We are not grayish beings stuck dustily in a past era. On the contrary, we are shiny and colorful after our long and challenging lives, and we are very much living in the present era--which we helped shape.
It is also apparent that the concepts embedded in these definitions originated long ago, when a person of fifty years had lived a physically grueling life, and was tired, perhaps finding it difficult to keep up with the labor required to carry on. Today, everything is different. Life is almost too virtual. A person is not comparably old unless she cannot keep up with the technology that has vastly increased the ways we interact with media or people. That will happen, if at all, when a person is in her nineties, not her fifties.
So the word "old" does not logically apply. What word might? We rather like "silver," which is in some use, and we would also be OK with "gold" or "platinum" or "diamond." Lustre Ladies like shiny stuff. We don't really like the appellation "Baby Boomer"--we are no longer babies and we were not the ones doing the booming, after all. Maybe we don't need a generational marker, a qualifier derived from years attained. But if we do, "cool", "powerful" and "wise" come to mind.
So, we have come around to our colleague's view. For Generation Cool, the word "old" is too antiquated to apply in the old-fashioned ways. Time for something more modern.
What would you propose?