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Meet the Perennials

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 24, 2016

Gina Pell on the Perennials, the growing group of people who aren’t bound by age in the way most people in society used to be.

We are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages. We get involved, stay curious, mentor others, are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded, risk takers who continue to push up against our growing edge and know how to hustle. We comprise an inclusive, enduring mindset, not a divisive demographic.

This is an idea that’s been gathering steam for some time. In 2006, Adam Sternbergh wrote Up With Grups for New York Magazine.

Let’s start with a question. A few questions, actually: When did it become normal for your average 35-year-old New Yorker to (a) walk around with an iPod plugged into his ears at all times, listening to the latest from Bloc Party; (b) regularly buy his clothes at Urban Outfitters; (c) take her toddler to a Mommy’s Happy Hour at a Brooklyn bar; (d) stay out till 4 A.M. because he just can’t miss the latest New Pornographers show, because who knows when Neko Case will decide to stop touring with them, and everyone knows she’s the heart of the band; (e) spend \$250 on a pair of jeans that are artfully shredded to look like they just fell through a wheat thresher and are designed, eventually, to artfully fall totally apart; (f) decide that Sufjan Stevens is the perfect music to play for her 2-year-old, because, let’s face it, 2-year-olds have lousy taste in music, and we will not listen to the Wiggles in this house; (g) wear sneakers as a fashion statement; (h) wear the same vintage New Balance sneakers that he wore on his first day of school in the seventh grade as a fashion statement; (i) wear said sneakers to the office; (j) quit the office job because-you know what?-screw the office and screw jockeying for that promotion to VP, because isn’t promotion just another word for “slavery”?; (k) and besides, now that she’s a freelancer, working on her own projects, on her own terms, it’s that much easier to kick off in the middle of the week for a quick snowboarding trip to Sugarbush, because she’s got to have some balance, right? And she can write it off, too, because who knows? She might bump into Spike Jonze on the slopes; (l) wear a Misfits T-shirt; (m) make his 2-year-old wear a Misfits T-shirt; (n) never shave; (o) take pride in never shaving; (p) take pride in never shaving while spending $200 on a bedhead haircut and $600 on a messenger bag, because, seriously, only his grandfather or some frat-boy Wall Street flunky still carries a briefcase; or (q) all of the above?

As part of a package of 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now, Catherine Mayer wrote about Amortality for Time Magazine.

Amortals live among us. In their teens and 20s, they may seem preternaturally experienced. In later life, they often look young and dress younger. They have kids early or late — sometimes very late — or not at all. Their emotional lives are as chaotic as their financial planning. The defining characteristic of amortality is to live in the same way, at the same pitch, doing and consuming much the same things, from late teens right up until death.

Cowell is one of their poster boys; so too is France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, as mercurial as a hormonal teenager. Madonna is relentlessly amortal. It’s easier to diagnose the condition in the middle-aged, but there are baby amortals — think Mark Zuckerberg, the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, who looks set to comport himself like a student geek to the end of his days. The eldest amortals, born long before the first boomer wave, are still making mischief around the world.

As centers of culture, big cities have always been places where people could go to not act their age. The internet has become another of those places — no one knows you’re a dog or 43 years old or 14 years old — and the sort of reinvention that’s commonplace online has leaked out into the real world.