Getting Old

Jan 23, 2023 · 5 min read · 1,009 views

"Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things."

— Douglas Adams

This quote by Douglas Adams is not only true for technological innovation, but also for innovations in society.

But it's not that easy isn't it…

Being progressive isn't new – I remember very well how the level of progressiveness my generation had. There were clear movements and you saw how culture was changing because it was reasonable - even if we got mocked by older people of that time. It was funny how disconnected and firmly lost older people were in their own past ways.

But let's be real – and this is what i hear a lot from people my age – today's generation is just going too far. The handouts they want, the privileges they demand, and the changes they push for. Some of the requests are absurdly irrelevant and small, mostly missing the point of what really matters in our world. And in some cases, they don't notice – due to arrogance or naivety – how some of their changes will lead to all kinds of problems. They just get played by bigger institutions. And if you dare to disagree you get branded as old and against society. This isn't progressiveness and it is just against the law of nature. Isn't it?

Even the music. We had cool non-mainstream stuff that meant something - even if other people didn't get it. The music of the current generation sounds like cheap pop, weak remixes, or random weirdo stuff – with only a few exceptions.

I mean i am not that old… the people younger than me are usually very similar in age/spirit to me… and if they are even younger then they are basically kids. I know because the people older than me are borderline ancient to be honest. So i think i can reflect here with objectivity. I mean let's be real. I am not turning more conservative as I am getting older.

It's the young people who are going crazy. And overall I am starting to believe the progressives are getting crazier and crazier with every generation. The progressives have left me behind and moved even further away from common sense. Didn't they?

OK… let's stop. If you didn't realize that this was meant to be sarcastic please re-read it. This is a cycle that repeats with every generation.

But jokes aside – i get it.

And what nobody told me neither… getting older is scary.

I think a lot of the tension to societal change comes from deeply rooted fear.

The fear that you can't adapt, that you might not belong, might not matter. That your 20-40 years of experience can be substituted by the right five years of experience at a lower pay with harder work hours.

When you are young everything you do matters and you are able to move the world. But then all of a sudden that changes. And unless you are widely recognized and on a clear mission you feel lost.

  • In your late 20ties, you are a role model to the ones coming after you.
  • In your late 30ties, you start noticing how the new generation does no longer agree with you on everything.
  • In your 40ties, you start noticing how younger people don't seek your opinion and you self-isolate with peers who get you.
  • In your 50-60ties, you realize how they don't care about you at all and your biggest fear becomes real. You become non-relevant, living in a world you no longer understand.
  • And if you haven't built your legacy, you will be lucky if you die before you are forgotten.

This fear is normal. And the disconnect between generations is how we protect ourselves.

If it's any recollection. This fear and disconnect between generations are as ancient as humanity itself.

“The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

― Socrates, ~400 BC

Every generation thinks the new ones lost it. And maybe the old ones dying off is the only thing that allows humanity moving forward?

But maybe it doesn't have to be…

What kind of older people would you want in your life as younger person? Someone who is open to new culture and thoughts while being willing to help? Someone who is self-reflective and can objectively judge ideas unrelated from whom they came?

Be the person your younger self wanted or needed. Nothing more you can and could have asked for.

In the end the only thing that will matter is how you helped the people around you.

Being young is great. You have the opportunity to learn without worry of shame, you can be wrong and open-minded, learn, create and improve. And being older is great – for the very same reasons.