America’s ad agencies and media apparently see Baby Boomers as tightly wound, overly sensitive, yesterday dwelling shells of their former selves. They’re right of course but it’s completely annoying for them to run with this information, especially across our lawns.
It seems while we were out searching for the fountain of youth, another group of people were studying our ways in order to offer said product to our g-g-generation. These people are called punks.
The anthropological findings of these punks are as follows: Boomers don’t like that we’re old and it makes us cranky if we’re reminded. This vast study, which most likely cost enough money to pay back the national debt is not only less than precise, but also warrants as second question: why don’t these people just ask me and then hand over the allotted funding. I’d even knock a million or two off to make myself competitive, a long dreamed of goal thwarted by my lack of ambition.
Media, and the stuff-sellers that pay their salary-and as a freelance writer I feel compelled to interject, what salary? – have come up with a list of words to be avoided when enticing Boomers to spend their kid’s college money. The list resembles George Carlin’s list of Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television, but with less coma-inducing trauma to WWII era folks.
According to Joanne Fritz PhD, author The Maturing Marketplace: Buying Habits of Baby Boomers and Their Parents, these are the words, in no particular order which should be avoided when referring to the Boomers unless you want us to stop buying your invisible hearing aids and hip support shoes. (In this case, by hip I mean cool, but there are more than likely cetabulofemoral joint-yes, I looked it up- shoes in the works if they haven’t already noticed our pronounced limps on the way into various Tribute to the Sixties concerts.)
First on the list: Of a certain age. My guess as to why this annoys many of us is that we don’t want anyone to be certain of our age. We prefer to think of younger people motioning toward us in that non-arthritic way they have and saying, “Look at that woman, I can’t be certain of her age, but she sure looks rad, or sick or whatever the kids are calling it these days.”
Next no-no: Golden Years. The study’s explanation as to why we’re not fond of this phrase is that it brings to mind a sunset and as we all know, when we watch the sun go down each night, our one and only thought is impending doom which makes us less than receptive to the idea of buying green bananas, let alone The Jitterbug cell phone.
Geezer is best avoided, as are crones and curmudgeons most likely because we link these words with Granny of the Beverly Hillbillies. (Note to Xers and your ilk, The Beverly Hillbillies had nothing to do with reality TV, although now that I’ve mentioned it, be on the look out for: The Housewives of Beverly Hillbillies! Yee doggies! Hold on to your hats, this is going to be a humdinger!)
Anyway, according to Ms Fritz, we may refer to ourselves as “old” or call our friends “Geezers”; but commercial ads should not use either term. “Hey Old People!” Is a terrible slogan and Geezer Cream will likely sell millions of units if it actually prevents certain geezerhood; if it’s a whipped topping, no so much.
There are, however terms of reference that won’t make an entire generation quiver like the skin at the back of our arms. Blogger, Rita R. Robison, suggests “Older” (Older than what? God’s favorite hat?) when referencing those who are not in their golden years by any stretch of the imagination, except by the perception of general society who should shut up. I don’t like that one either, Rita, what else have you got?
Senior is OK, but not for people who are under 65 unless they’re going to the movies when the word can be whispered into the fresh ear of a teenager who would have given you the discount anyway.
Those of us over 50 and under 65 prefer the phrase mid-life and middle-aged, according to the blog. I would argue that we expect to be the first generation that remains vibrant well into our seventies and, as proof turn to Sir Paul McCartney of Eternal Youth as our patron saint while that the fact that Sir Paul has been and always will be an anomaly of nature. Still, we’re clinging to this idea as we would the last jar of Geezer Cream at the local Crones R Us.
In conclusion, it’s probably best not to call my generation any of the above examples. We’ll let you know what we prefer after the next: Folks Over 50 Who Can Be Confused With Any Other Younger Age Group If You Don’t Wear Your Glasses Meeting.