Now, don't get me wrong, I love America, but we've gotten something terribly wrong and it's all due to my industry…marketing. I've been in marketing/advertising for the last decade and a half and here is (from my view) where we made a very wrong turn.
After WWII there was a boom of middle class families…we became serious "consumers." The babies were arriving in a huge tidal wave of humanity and these young parents needed all the latest and greatest…and in vast numbers. Now, forward ahead 18 years…those baby-boomers are coming into their own and the folks on Madison Avenue are tasked with the job of making sure that those "budding consumers" are going to migrate toward their client's brands…so, how are they going to do this? They're going to play to their collective ego by CELEBRATING YOUTH.
So as we hit the mid-1960's everything is "youth oriented." They even had a mantra during this time of "free love," "mind expansion," and "fighting the man," that, simply stated was "don't trust anyone over 30!" Think about that for a second…don't trust anyone over 30? It's those very same over-30 types that had just (not 20 years prior) risked everything, in both a European and Pacific theater, to ensure that freedom was secure. And the good folks on Madison Avenue were more than happy to fuel the fires of this youth movement for if their clients could get ahold of these young people in their formative and impressionable years, they'd have them as "consumers for life." So, the focus stayed squarely on the youth of the country.
Now, youth is fine…nothing wrong with it at all…we were all young once, and it's a great time in life. But where the real issue came in was not in just "being young," but "celebrating" it…taking away from what got us to where we were; as the world's preeminent republic. We turned our back on celebrating wisdom, experience, tradition and knowledge, in exchange for celebrating inexperience, vigor, and ignorance.
You see, the entire dynamic had been flipped on its head…our way of thinking about things had been fundamentally changed…all in the name of "consumerism." We wanted to get younger and younger consumers to begin their reckless consumption at an earlier and earlier age…so, how to best do that..tell them they're great, tell them they can do no wrong…and then when they begin to age, (into their 40's like me) then tell them that your client's products will make them look younger, feel younger, and act younger…you get the picture. Marketers have more data at their fingertips today than at any time in history. They know how to push our buttons and get us to take action. But it's that fundamental shift of 50 years ago, when we decided to de-value the time-honored and respected practice of revering age and wisdom that we made our critical error.
And rather than recognizing our mistake and course-correcting, we've unfortunately gone the other direction (at warp speed, no less)…for we have not only further embraced the desire for all things "youthful," but have now compounded our error by valuing such dangerous traits as "lack of ambition" and "stupidity" as well…just look at what the news covers... (who where those morons who kept telling everyone they were the 99% and living in public places a few years back…I forget…oh yea.."Occupy Wall Street"...) they give our inept politicians (on both sides of the aisle a free pass) They celebrate inane movies, ebonics, video games that glorify senseless violence, and a myriad of other things that tear at the very fabric of our great country.
We had a great country…one that didn't just value a formal education but also good old fashioned "common sense." One where time-honored traditions were passed down from generation to generation. One where the words and experiences of our elders were the foundation upon which we built successful lives and a wildly successful country. Now, due to slick marketing, unchecked consumerism a "if it feels good do it" mentality and a seismic paradigm shift, we have undone what countless centuries of people from around the entire world have known (and we have seemingly forgotten)…youth is wasted on the young, and that there is no substitute for age, wisdom and experience. If we're to survive as a society we'd better re-discover this…no matter what the marketers tell us!