Monday, August 29, 2016

On Aging

Bette Davis famously said “Getting old ain’t for sissies.” “Resistance is futile. Your life, as it has been, is over,” said The Borg when they (it?) first encountered the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Both sentiments precisely describe how I feel about getting older, being old. Actually, I don’t mind being old per se. I’m 64 and don’t let anyone tell you 60 is the New 50, because it’s not. Sixty is what it ever was: old. No, what I mind (besides the aches & pains and genteel poverty) is feeling obsolete, disrespected, and not knowing, liking or understanding (or all three) the young and the new.

I know that not everyone who’s 60+ feels this way. Lots of older people – those who’ve kept themselves fit, saved enough money to have disposable income, and have younger  people in their lives (e.g., kids and grandkids) feel very differently. Neither do those “oldsters” who are still working and/or have made a successful effort to form new relationships, find (or create) new endeavors, and especially embrace new technology and social media. But that’s not me. I’ve spent over 15 years feeling generally mad (angry not crazy), sad, and fearful of the outdoors (which is why I rarely leave the Tower).

With only a few exceptions, everyone I’ve ever loved (family, friends, and men I had resembling “partners”) have either died, relocated, or rejected me. I’ve rejected quite a few people myself, so I guess you reap what you sow or what goes around comes around or whatever. I’m able to accept that – not always graciously – as what happens when time marches on.

What I can’t seem to do is forget the pleasantries and civilities of the past, accept the speed and crassness of the present, and emotionally feel my age – which is to say, in my head I feel like I’m still in my 20s. I also don’t recognize a lot. For example, I don’t know today’s “celebrities.” I’ve heard some of their names, but for the most part I wouldn’t know them if I fell over them on the street. It’s my own fault, because I don’t watch reality TV or network TV, go to (or rent) new movies or listen to new music. I’ve tried a little harder with the music, but I have no patience with these breathy-sounding girls, mediocre melodies, and very poorly crafted lyrics (when I can make them out), and I didn’t like Rap/Hip-Hop when it first reared its angry head in the 80s; I sure don’t like it any better now.

I have an especially hard time with TV commercials. Most of the time I don’t know what they’re selling and all cars look alike to me. There are so many ads between snippets of Show that I literally forget what I’m watching. And except for the ads for medical alert systems, mobility scooters (both of which I have), medications with dangerous and ludicrous side effects, stair chairs, and incontinence pads, none of them are directed at my “demographic.” If I were a man (or had one in my life), I’d include the commercials for erectile dysfunction pills. Other than that, nobody wants old people’s business.

Nobody speaks my language either – or any language for that matter, really. Everything is an acronym or an emoji or slang. When things go viral that’s a good thing. When you give something a thumb-up/”like” that’s important. So are images. Images are everything. Words largely don’t matter – except for a few. Apparently anyone who does anything, especially in front of a camera, is an icon and almost everything is iconic, awesome, and genius. But there are double-meanings I don’t understand. I know that to hack into a technological system is a bad thing. But then there are “hacks” to do things – genius hacks for scrambling eggs, putting on your shoes, etc. I don’t get it.

I also don’t know what people are – particularly hipsters. I know they’re not hippies and they’re certainly not the hipsters of the 1950s. I don’t even know if being a hipster is a good or bad thing to be. I do know what a helicopter parent is (obnoxious and ridiculous), and I know what their children are (obnoxious and doomed). I also know that tiny houses are the big new thing, that all homes should be open-concept and have areas instead of rooms (and everything else is “outdated”). I know that sitting is the new smoking (and here I am, sitting and smoking), quinoa is not pronounced key-no-na, açaí is a berry that didn’t previously exist, and lots of things are “aspirational.”

In irritating addition, women who are a size 10 are fat and should be aspiring to be a size 0 (which no one seems to see as anti-woman, but women don’t want to be called feminists anymore, so who cares?), that phones are smart even though you can’t hear a conversation on them, and it’s perfectly alright to go out for dinner with a group of people and have everyone be on their phones instead of talking to each other.

I do know that, like me, having buttons on “devices” is obsolete; you’re supposed to smear screens with your fingers. I also know that life isn’t worth living unless one has many devices, although I don’t know why one needs a laptop and a tablet, but then I don’t really know what a tablet is for, how streaming works, or why some folks say TV is also obsolete even though they’re still getting bigger and bigger.

All I know is I’m very confused, and this aging thing is hard. I could go on, but this post is already very long and any more than 140 characters for anything is…well, unnecessary – like paper and wires and shopping anywhere except on the Internet. And in the final analysis, I know that resistance is futile and my life, as it has been, is over. But as Maurice Chevalier sang: I’m so glad I’m not young anymore. If you don’t know who he was or where he sang that, smear one of your screens and do a search.


Anonymous said...

It's like a selfie of an old brain that doesn't give a shit if things aren't like they used to be.

MizB said...

Thanks for your incomprehensible as well as anonymous nastiness. Much appreciated.