Knovvmads Magazine

The wrinkle is subversive

In twenty years, the greater part of the population comprising the baby boomers born during the decades of the fifties and sixties of the past century will belong to what has been referred to as the age of retirement, or as it is termed in Spain: The Third Age. If libraries (or whatever they’ll be called then) still exist, then what will they do to satisfy that population’s cultural and leisure activity needs? Will they be libraries for the retired? Will they be the new homes of pensioners of the XXI century? 

People older than sixty will be the largest demographic group, more numerous than children and teenagers whose numbers have been on the wane in the western world for many years. In this context, wrinkles will no longer be beautiful as a Spanish designer’s campaign claimed in the eighties; it will be directly subversive.

Since the younger generation has been glorifying, through publicity, fashion and entertainment multi-nationals, the old man of the global tribe no longer incarnates wisdom, only a charge for the sanitary system of savage capitalism; or in the best of cases, a resource with which to ameliorate the disastrous effects of the economic crisis of families.

They are inconsequent, retrograde, irrelevant and vote on the right. They have destroyed the planet, killed the third world with hunger! In eighty years, they have practically made the totality of living species disappear! They have squandered our resources! Every year 50 million chickens are bred and still people die of hunger! Historically, they are humanity’s worst generation!

Back cover of the French comic: “The Old Ovens,” who’s protagonists are an elderly group disposed to start a revolution.

That’s why it is not unusual, that just like erasing a file in an e-reader, we attempt to erase evidence of the passage of time from our faces and bodies. A career without end, so long as we continue to provide organic material, like printed books, that just like their readers, age and pulp of its pages turns yellow denoting its use. Now the cold and aseptic splendor of screens will play with the intervened faces, paralyzed and made smooth by Botox or some other new cosmetic technique.

Wrinkles and grey hair are on their way to becoming the new punk. It’s possible that as always the world of fashion has astutely assumed the discourse promoting the presence of mature models on cat walks and magazines. they well understand who has the money, and that the delicious protagonists of the web Advanced Style, deny the expiration of the illusion so long as they live. But, becoming wrinkled after this moment, is on its way to becoming a declaration of principle.

The fantastic elderly ladies of New York from the Advanced Style blog, wholly a life philosophy beyond fashion. 

The wrinkle will be what best re-establishes social differences, now that the democratization of fashion has made it more difficult to distinguish the social strata from which someone comes. Through their wrinkles you will know them, or as Jacques Brel sings in his song La Dame Patroness (The Lady Patron): “this way the poor to the 11 am mass will go, and will not be confused with the common people.”

The Spanish musician, Nacho Canut, member of the electronic duo, Fangoria, dedicated a song to the mythical Disco Sally of Studio 54. Speaking about her figure, Canut made some joking declarations to the issue that sound perfect for what we are talking about:

“Age is poorly seen. You must make yourself young all the time… In a short time teenagers will be a minority and they will be bullied by Disco Sally.” .

(For those who don’t know Sally Lipmann: she was a New York Attorney who after becoming widowed at an old age during the 70’s decade launched herself in to the mythic party at Studio 54 and as per legend, the dance floor)
The mythical Disco Sally living the crazy night life of the 70’s studio 54.

We don’t believe that living during the 60’s or 70’s decades there was a proliferation of Disco Sallies in the geriatric wards, but what is certain is that library services that until today have worked to serve the elderly, will need to adapt themselves.

The adorable golden girls from the 80’s series would have other demands today. The next golden girls and boys belong to a generation that has traveled, speaks languages (or have at least attempted to do so), has lived the sexual lives of couples in entirely different ways than the preceding generations, that have founded families, in many instances, contrary to the conventional model that represent a definite change in mentality and customs.

In review of some of the library programs directed at those over the age of sixty, we find a limited variety of options, although some are imaginative.

In the Israeli movie: “The Farewell Party,” a group of retirees practice an active retirement by creating a machine for euthanasia.
  • In Bristol, the public library helps the elderly resolve matters related to taxes, contracts and petitions for social aid, etc. This is a line of action that will continue to be useful in twenty years, whether or we are fans of Nat King Cole or Talking Heads, gratitude to those who help and counsel will always be there.
  • In Virginia, the Jefferson Library has a campaign that collects hygiene and personal care products, costume jewelry and coloring books, with which it assembles gift bags to be distributed amongst the elderly of the community for Valentine’s day. For the generations that lived through World War II received something for free is often a motive for emotion, for those raised in the age of consumerism and brand cults, we do not know to what extent these gift bags may be appreciated.
  • In the Canadian city of Wasaga Beach, Ontario, the public library offers and ample selection of offerings for the elderly: from classics like the visitor’s guides to monuments, museum and theaters, first aid courses, ancestry tracing, and memoire writing. These offerings will continue to be pertinent for older adults in twenty years.
  • Another activity developed by the Wasaga public library oriented to seniors consists in celebrating the Downton Abbey television series. The party entails going to the library dressed in period clothes, drinking tea and refreshments and playing parlor games; an activity made even more current with the recent adaptation of the series to the big screen in 2019. This may just be the activity best inherited by the baby boomers, a thematic party will always have a draw. Although it is possible we may have to adopt a different type of fiction, for example projecting the Rocky Horror Picture Show and its consequent thematic party for the more alternative retirees. 

Among the many proposals put forth in the American Library Association’s directives for libraries and information services directed at older adults there is the recommendation that seniors be hired as volunteer auxiliary staff. But, we have seen during this time of budget cuts and uncertainty that taking on volunteers can have an adverse effect on employee morale. 

Some politicians from the United Kingdom have seen, in this proposal, the opportunity to hire less qualified personnel. Seniors end up becoming voluntary replacements that take jobs away from younger workers, eliminating professionals and thus provoking intergenerational confrontations that diminish the strength of reply against those who adopt those practices by way of the crisis. A masterful play, or are we being paranoid? In any case, twenty years we will know.

Twenty years are nothing, so it will be very interesting to be present during the evolution of librarians will adopt for the public. Some elderly that won’t have to be alphabetized in to the new technologies, because although they are digital natives, they have adapted to it on a forced march. Such things as the Eldy internet navigator, conceived to assist the elderly, will no longer be necessary.

Shirley and Hinda are the stars of the documentary: “Two Raging Grannies,” tells the story of how these two conventional housewives, left their homes to travel to Wall Street to directly ask bankers and executives about the 2008 fiscal crisis. Although they were detained many times, in their nineties, they finally achieved their objective.

The new third age will be the largest segment of the population by mid-century. They will have a greater critical thinking capacity (we’re confiding in that). They won’t be intimidated by the technological mediums that traumatized previous generations. They will be accustomed to operating in a much more complex world and we suppose they will have a greater civic conscience and as citizens as well. In the resulting world of these times, libraries will do well not to focus exclusively in capturing new generations, at the expense of curtailing services to the largest public demographic in the medium to long term.