Age and Wisdom

I turned my back for a few days this week only to discover I’m another year older. At the tender age of twenty-three, I’m still very much a young man, yet there’s a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that seems to be trying to tell me something. And what it’s trying to tell me is that I’m old.

It’s a ridiculous idea, when you look at it logically. Like it or not, when you’re in your twenties you’re still learning. In fact, you’re learning all your life. True wisdom comes with real age yet, for some reason, we’ve reached a state where we’re being told that we’re already past it at the age of thirty. I know I’m not exaggerating about this. It’s there in every television programme, bandied about in magazine interviews and, before new legislation came in a year or two back, was a fact of the job market.

The fact of the situation is, this attitude has only been around for fifty years at the most. Up until the mid nineteen-sixties, you were expected to behave as an adult when you hit fourteen an you got respect for your wisdom at middle age (fifty-ish). The rise of youth culture changed the face of popular culture, to the point where now we’re all supposed to pander to teenage ideals. And that’s only practical until you’re thirty. Then, you know enough about the world to work with the things you can’t change rather than acting out pointless rebellions. The thing is, the whole set-up is a joke.

The ancient Romans had a concept called the cursus honorum – the “Road of Honours”. The idea was that a member of the Roman nobility went through a series of offices over his lifetime, starting with his military service, that would eventually end in the highest offices of government. Each office he could hold had a minimum age at which a man could take this office. And the most junior role on the cursus had an age tag of thirty. A man had to be in his fifties before he could take on the most senior roles, and quite rightly so. A young man just doesn’t have the experience of the world to take on the leadership of a nation.

Yet, despite the wisdom of age being a fairly objective concept, we’re bombarded with images of youth and even middle-aged members of society are marginalised in the mass media. The punch-line is that, what with our birth-rates declining in the face of career-orientationism, the old and wise outnumber the youths of the world – so how on earth can the powers that be see images of youth to be a way of getting an audience to empathise with their message? The world has indeed gone mad. My best bet is to tell that nagging doubt of mine to sit down and shut up. I’m not wise enough to have earned the right to feel old yet.


~ by Scary Rob on 3 June, 2008.

One Response to “Age and Wisdom”

  1. It’s commercialism. Plain and simple.
    People 18 – 30 (35 if you’re being generous) are considered to be more flexible and less likely to settle on one particular product. So in the eyes of the marketing people they are the ones who can be persauded to switch to different brands. So most advertising is directed at them. Which means most radio, TV and magazine content is directed at them. Obviously there are exceptions in certain, specific markets.
    The general rule is that once someone is in their 30s the powers-that-be have mostly decided to stop chasing their money and so they are disregarded.

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