Monday, October 05, 2009

47, 48, 49 OBLIVION

My parents: do they look demographically obsolete to you?

They just said on the radio that the new H1N1 vaccination is being recommended to everyone between the ages of 2-49. And this morning I read in my beloved New York Times that The Big Bang Theory does well in the coveted 18-49 year old viewing demographic. And just now when I took a parenting magazine survey and they asked my age the final two categories were 45-49, 50 and older.

So what, you might ask? Well, I happen to be 49 and now realize I am on the verge of demographic obsolesence. This comes as a great surprise to me and perhaps even more so to my parents in their 70's and my grandmother who is 94. Really? Really, America you decide that anyone over 49 is no longer demographically significant? Soon you will no longer waste flu vaccines on me or care what I'm watching on TV or how I parent my kids?

This is especially funny to me when I consider that based on family history I will probably live another 49 years and will be watching more and more TV as I age AND that I have a whole lot more discretionary income than I did when I was 18. But do advertisers care what I watch? Well, yes, they do for another eight months but then it will be all, "Oh, you're 50 so you can't be cool anymore and we don't care if you watch Glee and MadMen because you're old."

Fifty? When did fifty signal the end of life? I mean, when since the medieval times when we all had babies at 12 and lost our teeth at 30 and died at 40, did 50 mean old? Whatever happened to that line "Merry Christmas to kids from 1 to 92" (I often wonder what my grandma thinks when she hears that line. I guess she has to acknowledge she is no longer a kid).

It is not fun to have to check the last box on a survey especially when it comes to age. Though, come to think of it, it is not fun to have to check the last box for a few things like marital status: (single, married, divorced, seeing someone, it's complicated, please mom get off my back, married in some states but not most).

With other categories it might be fun to check the last box say the one for educational level (high school, some college, college, some post-grad, graduate degree, PhD, good god are you EVER going to stop going to school?) or the income level boxes (0-$20,000 a year, $25,000-$40,000, $40,000-$65,000, $65,000-$100,000, $100,000 to more than anyone really needs).

It's getting so I am a little embarrassed to have to check that age box at all. Sometimes when I'm filling out forms in the doctor's office, I let my hand hover near the top of the list in case anyone is watching (which reminds me of the game we used to play at University of Michigan when we'd go see our grades posted--since they posted them in the order from 4.0 to 0.0 with our student ID number next to them we would all tilt our heads up as if looking at the top of the list while our eyes scanned down the list until we finally came to our actual grade--I nearly gave my eyes a hernia trying to keep my head up but see my calc grade).

Anyhoo, I am digressing. Back to the old age thing. I think it is kind of weird that Letterman who is 62 and Leno who is 59 are chasing after the 18-49 year old viewers (though not as weird as chasing after that age group in the office--bah-ding-bang!).

Maybe I'll write to the TV station and complain about this age-ism. But I better hurry because in eight months my letter will just end up in the "50 and over" pile.


  1. When approaching the fiftieth birthday, a friend referred to fifty as "The old age of youth, and the youth of old age." Although I thought that sounded good at the time, I'm beginning to think that was setting the bar a little low.

  2. If only the IRS would use the same classification.

  3. And what is wrong with being 50 (or so)???

  4. Funny, I have been noticing that same demographic phenomenon, since my big five-oh is just around the corner. Soon I will have aged to the point of irrelevance? As for your parents, great pic of both, but your friggin' mother STILL looks like she could be your sister!
    (isn't it "kids from 1 to 99"? cuz I used to wonder what Aunt Helga thought after she passed 100.)