I fully realize that this statement makes no sense, but I am a twenty-two year old woman and I feel as if I could reasonably apply for Medicare benefits or a membership with the AARP. When this happened I have no idea. One minute I was a hip college student reveling in my youth. The idea of “going out” was intensely exciting to me—I wore crop tops in public and went about my business without the slightest doubt that everything I participated in and listened to was intensely cool. And now? The mere thought of clubbing triggers what could only be described as automatic nausea, like a food aversion to loud music and strobe lights instead of lemon Danishes. The sexiest trait a potential mate can possess at this point in my life is a job with 401K match. I don’t know, maybe I should just lean into it, buy some pilling sweater sets, find a store that sells that single, unnamed brand of soap all elderly people seem to use that gives one a quintessentially delectable moth-ball-and-day-old-pea-soup scent.
This is not a hipster thing, either. I’ve fully examined that unsavory possibility and have come to the conclusion that that is decidedly not it. I have no established or ingrained hatred for all things popular, all things “mainstream.” I’m not nearly as cool as my monochromatic wardrobe makes me look, and I have paddled up and down every tributary of the Main Stream. I’ve dabbled in suburban-mom approved pop and all the neutered alt-rock known to man; attended “raves” where the most exotic thing on the menu was a remix of “Get Lucky.” I’ve been to not one, but two Lady Gaga concerts and still mourn the loss of a signed Backstreet poster that once graced the door of my closet in my younger days. In other words, I have no issues with the idea of popular music whether current or slightly out-of-date simply because of its popularity. The problem is not an excess of coolness on my part, but the steadily increasing gap between my geriatric self and the young taste-makers of the subsequent generation.
Nowhere is this sudden onset of a new and frightening type of senioritis more evident than in my dealings with music. I turned on the radio the other day, switched through four different channels, and had not even a vague inclination as to the identity of a single artist or group. Sure, I didn’t particularly care for the music I heard either, but that’s not what alarmed me. It all sounded the same. The names meant as much to me as a name like “The Artic Monkeys” probably means to my ninety year-old grandfather. I had to call and ask my brother who this kid Shawn Mendes was. And then I had this horrible, circular moment of awareness as I realized that this, this feeling right here, is exactly what my mother goes through every time she asks me what some slang term means or how to close apps on an iPhone.
And then I had an even more horrible experience, an out-of-body horror-induced acid trip where I saw vividly in my mind’s eye a fictional suburban home of the not-too-distant future, wherein a teenage girl sits on her bed, walls covered in posters of the bands of my youth, sighing and imagining herself a part of some counter-culture of nostalgic appropriation. She’s wearing one of those Happy Bunny t-shirts and listening to Hellogoodbye on CDs because, “that’s the way this music was meant to be heard.” She’s loudly and incessantly declaring in the year 2030 that she was born, “in the wrong generation.” Do you realize that our favorite groups and songs will one day be relegated to an oldies station playing “The Best of the 2000s and 2010s” on whatever futuristic equivalent of radio exists in twenty or so years? We will one day be fodder for a dime store’s nostalgia shelf. We will one day be antiquated and irrelevant novelties. We will one day be the Kewpie Dolls and the pet rocks and the neon mesh shirts.
So sit there and come to terms with your inevitable and encroaching obsolescence. And the next time you give yourself a terrifying reality check and ask, “Are the opening chords to ‘Mr. Brightside’ going to one day cause the same uproar amongst forty and fifty year olds as ‘Freebird’ does now???” Quake in your boots and know that the answer is unequivocally and abso-freaking-lutey, yes. Have fun not sleeping tonight, you adolescent bag of bones.