The word “seenager” is a relatively recent term, first appearing in the 2010s. “Seenagers” is a neologism that combines the words “senior” and “teenager”. It refers to an older person, usually aged 65 or over, who maintains an active lifestyle, a youthful attitude and an interest in the popular activities and trends of new generations.
Seenagers are often described as older people who refuse to conform to the stereotypes associated with aging. They remain socially engaged, adopt a positive attitude, and continue to explore new experiences. They are often active on social networks, interested in fashion, technology, music, and the hobbies of younger generations. On contrary, the seenager, far from the image of vulnerable elders will on the contrary be fully anchored in his time and will continue to play a role in society.
Why is the profile of the elderly changing?
The seenagers, freshly retired, have the time, money, and freedom to do as they please. But what sets them apart from past generations is undoubtedly their state of health. Medical science continues to evolve as life expectancy increases. Today, the health of a 65-year-old is in no way comparable to that of a 65-year-old 30 years ago, after a lifetime of hard work. People are living longer and longer, but above all they are living longer and longer in good health. These scientific developments mean that seenagers can enjoy their leisure activities, sports, and travel to the full.
The second major change is the high divorce rate. More and more people are living alone. This evolution inevitably conditions a new approach to old age. In addition to all the professional constraints they are freed from, seenagers no longer necessarily have a marital life to maintain. In this case, these old bachelors can roam freely and enjoy the pleasures of life.
A final point to consider is the geographical distance from their families. Times have changed, with many children moving to another region, or even another country. Seenagers are no longer confined to their role as grandparents, assigned to looking after their grandchildren. Not an insignificant detail, according to The Economist 22% of the world’s population will be grandparents by 2050. The seenagers can then live out their second youth without fear of being caught up in their duties!
Why do these seenagers deserve our attention?
As we have seen, seenagers are not just an epiphenomenon. The major changes described above explain the emergence of this new profile of older people.
In a global context of demographic crisis, we are witnessing an alarming aging of our populations. Our modern societies are struggling to come to grips with the scale of the situation. The role of the elderly will become crucial to our societies. The UN estimates that the world’s population aged over 60 will increase by 46% by 2030, to 1.4 billion people. This is when seenagers play a crucial role. They will help to break down long-held stereotypes about the elderly by becoming fully involved in society. Not only as actors, but also as consumers. A revolution is underway. Previously, chronological age determined our place in society and what others expected of us. Today, seenagers have the power and freedom to interact with society and younger generations. Retirement is no longer just seen as a time for leisure and idleness. Seenagers break the taboos of old age and remind us that there is life after 60.
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that more and more elderly people today have no choice but to continue working to support themselves. Japan has made this a core policy, encouraging seniors to work for as long as possible. Alongside the seenagers category, many older people live in precariousness and isolation.
Why is the term “seenager” important?
The term “elderly” encompasses all people over the age of 60, and this is problematic. Indeed, it’s interesting to note that no distinction is made between the 65-year-old retiree and the 100-year-old grandmother. And yet, when we use the term “elderly person”, we all have in mind the old man bent over with his cane. We create “package” words, to which we associate concepts. Let’s take a concrete example. If you’re asked to spontaneously imagine a lumberjack, most people will visualize a tall, muscular, white man with a thick beard and a checkered shirt. For older people, it’s the same: stereotypes are so deeply ingrained that the unconscious takes over. Perhaps the term “seenager” isn’t just another pompous neologism from the English language. In using the term, we’re certainly putting a label back together, but above all we’re nuancing an overused term. Better still, it makes visible a section of the population that no longer even had a word for it. As we’ve already mentioned, the term “seenager” deconstructs persistent clichés about old age and allows us to describe the complexity of our world a little better.
Behind these mechanisms lies a concept developed by the British philosopher J.L. Austin in the 1950s: performative language. This concept is based on the premise that language is not simply a series of words describing the world around us but can also have a direct impact on our environment and social relationships. Performative language acts have the capacity to change reality, establish norms, commit responsibilities, and create obligations. Language then has the power to achieve what it states. This concept gives speakers a sense of responsibility and gives everyone the power to act on the world. Now it’s up to us to decide what kind of society we want to grow old in…