We who have been young and grown older, which is not all of us, know only after the fact what it’s like to live in a culture obsessed with youth. Before we were old enough to understand this fixation, we took it as derision — for good reason. We were scolded and mocked and left out of the conversation. And so we decided out-of-touch older folks were judging our choices, our grievances, our looks, our pleasures. But that’s not what was going on. Not entirely.
Now that we’re older, we can appreciate that there’s something else at play — we know this because we’ve traded spots. This derision, in fact, is admiration mixed with dislocation mixed with a terrible regret. A sense of if-I’d-known-then-what-I-know-now-I-wouldn’t-be-nearly-as-stupid-as-you-are. (But you didn’t, so you were.)
This month, we’re going to look at this tension — about what it’s like to be young today, what it’s like to no longer be young, and what it’s like to be older looking back. We’re also going to spend some time on what scientists and technologists are doing to turn back the clock, through breathtaking science, bold experiments, and on social media.
All month long, we’ll be publishing stories on the theme of Youth, Now. We’ll look at the rising cohort of young people growing up in opposition to a world that has betrayed them politically, economically, and environmentally. We’ll listen when they tell us what kind of world they’re demanding (it’s better than you think), and we’ll listen when they tell us what worlds they come from(it’s sometimes worse than you could imagine). We’ll also look at what youth means to those of us who no longer have it — who chase it with adventure, drugs, Korean beauty products, and various expressions of midlife crises. And we’ll look at what young people today are doing to fundamentally change society.
This is a happy narrative. If you’ve forgotten why, take a look at any kid on any swing in any park around the world. Anything is possible. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Follow us all month long at Youth, Now.