Christmas came and went and I notice that as my years roll on that it seems rather more fleeting. Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas, the atmosphere, the sentiments and the meaning, perhaps one becomes more contemplative with age.
If you are enjoying life as a pensioner then you were born before 1950 and quite likely are in better health than previous generations of a similar age, many of whom were worn out when retired from work, and you may be enjoying an active lifestyle, e.g. travelling, cultural pursuits and sports.
It has also meant that
life as a pensioner has markedly increased in length, almost doubled since the 60s, and we have become an attractive target for the marketers and the advertisers and politicians at election time.
Back in the 60s there were hippies, teddy boys and bodgies, admittedly a small percentage of the youth then, but few now recognize themselves as those in the picture of that time. It has to do with not wanting to be classified as everyone being the same, instead the focus has been on the individuality and personal development even though throughout life the strength of solidarity has really only been paid lip service.
And now, what we don’t want is to be seen as ‘old’, experienced yes, but never old. An American study describes women between 40 and 60 years old on average see themselves as 15 years younger, and after 60 as 10 years younger. The men, to the contrary, are completely unrealistic in their own judgment, they never get any older than 28!
Mind you, when I think of all the geriatric rock and rollers coming to our shores for a last show for their fans it fits the picture that we should relive our youth with them and forget about the wrinkles. It was 1967 when the Beatles declared that their touring days were over and they were going on a long holiday, and flower power was in and it was the summer of love, and ‘Sergeant Pepper’ became the new concept in music. I seem to remember that the album stayed the bestselling one right up to 1991.
It was then the old tune ‘When I’m sixty-four’ that Paul McCartney had written became popular with the refrain ‘Will you still need me, will you still feed, when I’m sixty-four?’, a tune, I’m guessing, you are humming to yourself right now. There were jobs for anyone wanting to work, our houses rose in value and those who looked after their jobs became the new powerful ones, who do not or did not want to retire.
Those over 50 are now sitting on 70% of the personal wealth and are yet wondering why it is that the current generation expects to be given their needs when the 60+ fought for theirs. We by and large grew up with a firm work ethic and a family structure, we have respect for money because we had to work hard to earn it. Parents had gone through the war and possibly 2 wars, and a depression; they took pride in bringing up and caring for the welfare of their family, and when there wasn’t that much to go around they did not feel poor, so our upbringing was somewhat controlled, even strict, or at least disciplined, but we did not think that we lacked for anything.
The late 60s and 70s became the years where new freedoms were found and exploited.The ‘middle class’ grew, educational opportunities grew, and we did not have to leave home as early as in the past. The young people could start to think of following their dreams and many taboos were broken. It really was a paradigm shift, and at the age of 16 to 25 is where the adult person’s identity and character are formed as are the person’s values and personality.
It was no longer a case of survival, there was plenty of work, skilled and unskilled, and in spite of that there was loyalty to job, and it mattered not what you did as long as you did an honest day’s work. It was a time for a new world view, new ways of living, alternatives. It wasn’t really something deliberately sought, more of a gradual change happening around us. And the music was a catalyst for change, who can forget the photos of the Beatles standing on the balcony of the St. George Hotel with the adoring, screaming fans everywhere below crying in hysteria and pleasure of seeing their idols. But the music also spoke to them.
The generation now past 64 years old expects the world to be as orderly as it was when they grew up, and many see today’s advertising and market hype as a directly opposing their perception of honesty and truth. A brave new world indeed.
Let me remind you of a few events on the way from 1950. Polio in the early 50s, Vietnam war 1955, Barbie invented 1959, Cuba crisis 1962, EU formed 1968, economic crisis, Aids spreads to the West 1973, 1974 Abba wins the Euro Grandprix, 1975 end of Vietnam war, 1977 StarWars premiers, the Walkman launched in 1979, 1980 John Lennon shot, 1984 Steve Jobs markets his first Apple Mac, Berlin wall falls in 1989. Economic crises in the 80s and 90s and the Millennium bug for New Year 2000. 2001 New York’s 9/11, 2004 Facebook is launched, 2007 the first iPhone, and financial melt down, and then it was 2014, and you would have reached 64 years old.
It you are past the 65 and still working, and many are keeping on with their jobs, then that points clearly to better health outcomes, education and qualifications, so it may be true that today’s 60 yearly olds are the new 40 year olds, and we should expect that they stay in work till they are nearer 70, rather than 60-65. Some have never envisioned themselves as pensioners others wish they had saved more for the retirement.
Fortunately, many choose to enter voluntary work, for them it is often a question of interests, abilities, desire and personal growth, and Kapiti SeniorNet depends on this hardworking generation that always found it hard to sit still, and likes to get involved in something meaningful.
There is no doubt that the new world in many ways is better suited to cope with the coming generation’s requirements, a major change has occurred in the relationship areas, more married people seek less dependence on each other financially and arrange their rights accordingly, more second or third partnerships may have children from previous relationships so legal rights needs to be arranged before entering into new alliances. It may not be terribly romantic, but certainly more realistic.
We are a long way from the the kind of world we grew up in, now in the consumer society we must have an enormous mass of equipment just to exist, the materialistic society was brainwashed by the clever ad-men, and we did not question the promises of leisure forever, and perhaps only now in our dotage do we accept that our world has changed beyond our expectations and the over-the-top consumption isn’t really what our innate caution with money could have foreseen. Yet in the 15 years to 2012 our expenditure rose by 28%, and I am only talking about the over 60s, the average for the population as a whole is less than half than figure.
We are on the whole going to live longer than previous generations so more seniors and hence more political power. We may have given up smoking tobacco, but alcohol consumption is rising although for this generation it is largely for enjoyment and not to get drunk. Who knows how many of the 1950’s generation smoked hash and if it was legal might like to have another go?
Recognizing the huge technological development in our lifetime, we have gone from newspapers and radio to TV, computing and now communication devices to keep us all in touch 24/7. Thanks to The Internet, we can chat to people on the other side of the globe and video and music flows, and you can buy on-line from anywhere across borders thanks to the new media. Facebook became the new togetherness and we have landed a satellite on a comet, a vehicle on Mars and maintain a space station and a host of other firsts. Our generation has indeed been witness to history in technology.
There is so much more I haven’t touched upon, but perhaps next time. For as I write this I also become aware of just how much our generation has achieved and how much the coming generations will add to the long list. Another year, a new world is on the cards, the big unknown. Make your year a good one, consume a little less, take time to smell the roses.