People who hear about this project say, “Great idea!” They also say, “Don’t you think you should include people under eighty?”
Nope. For one thing, people who work into their eighties aren’t unusual enough. Eyebrows don’t raise. Secondly, while seventy is within striking range for my indulged and potent generation, eighty still seems old — on the far side of the delusory divide between “us” vs. “them.”
I’m going to be hearing it less and less often, because as we boomers squint into the future, we’re running into all the active octogenarians and nonagenarians and centenarians out there. Check out this story nestled under the header “The Cracked Nest Egg” in the Business section of MSNBC’s website. “Forget bingo! 80 is the new 30!” exhorts the headline. “More octogenarians are running companies instead of retiring” declares the subhead. The youngest person featured is 85, and the poster boy is Jack Weil, the 106-year-old CEO of a Denver company that sells Western duds.
The headline’s a little hyperbolic — 80 is the new 60 is more like it — but it’s an indicator of how rapidly a yawning divide in public perception is closing.