“It made my heart run in circles and overflow / And I was closer than ever to letting go It made my heart run in circles in overdrive /And I was closer than ever to feeling alive” (Tame Impala 2016, Reality in motion)
On the wave of the international convergence, Generation U will not be portrayed as the Fritz Lang prophetic vision, but we will observe the creative as well as unifying impulse that is deriving from the human ability to think universally and act locally, where “DIY” (Do It Yourself, the 21st century Individualism’s manifesto) relies on people’s consciousness about the right of living their own life as they better prefer.
According to these conditions we can sum up by insisting on the idea that the fourth industrial revolution is coming, and it will be lead by those who have been cradled by the Web 2.0, anyone that is observing the past being translated into the future, but especially by the ones that will be able to run the business faster.
Even in the job market, day by day we are forced to compete each other in the virtual world, where thousands of different personalities are willing to coexist in the so-called society of individuals (Bauman, 2014).
As we were looking throughout the chinks of a broken mirror, we cannot perceive ourselves as a linear entity anymore, but rather we are determining our identity on the basis of many perspectives, which somehow undermine our stability and lead us comparing with others while running on a kaleidoscopic space. The loss of social structures built on old but strong values, such as family and memory, in favour of career, multiculturalism and adaptability to change, is likely to be the keystone for understanding the contemporary scenario.
On the one hand,
“the rise in our ageing population also means a change in consumption culture, for example people spending the largest proportion of their income on clothes now are women between the ages of 55 – 74. Fashion markets will have to embrace their older consumers if they wish to thrive in a future where the population is dominated by older age groups” (CSF, 2013).
We can figure out how youth is becoming one fundamental prerogative in people’s behaviour as much as plus value in terms of job market, whereby its duration depends on the process of acceleration throughout society, which has largely expanded the passage from childhood to adulthood. On the other hand, the same wisdom that until yesterday has been associated with aging, today is losing its power in the behave of a “presentification” (in Sorcinelli, Varni, 2004:19) which make us considering the past as a hindrance, as something temporary to archive in order to faster learn new rules and forget about previous ones. Differently from our ancestors, for us it becomes more and more improbable to ask for advice to our grandparents, yet it would be more advisable to stay tuned within our nephews. Therefore again our perception of time ends to impact on our emotions and on the way we want to be perceived from the society.
This is a story about T i m e
“O quando illud videbis tempus, quo scies tempus ad te non pertinere” (Seneca .ep.32,4)
In 2011 BBC announced that Chris Sinha, a professor of psychology of language at the University of Portsmouth, found out that Amondawa, an indigenous group living1 in the Uru-eu-wau-wau reservation, in the State of Rondônia in Brazilian Greater Amazonia, has no abstract idea of time as western civilization conceive it, and therefore they do not consider it as a ‘separate dimension’.
This is likely to say that ‘they do not have notion of time as being independent of the events which are occurring; they don’t have a notion of time which is something the events occur in’ (Palmer, 2011). According to the researchers(2011:27)
“[…] the age of an individual is not measured chronologically in Amondawa culture, which lacks a numerical system able to enumerate above four. Rather, individuals are categorized in terms of stages or periods of the lifespan, based upon social status and role, and position in family birth order. As we have also noted, each Amondawa individual changes their name during the course of their life, and the rules governing these name changes form a strict onomastic system.”2
In particular, they change their names during their life (i.e. when celebrating the birth of a baby, or when an individual achieves a new position in social life), within the aim of indicating one person’s “age”/social role, gender and moiety.
Without a notion of time that relies upon a quantitative structure, the lack of age as life-measurement parameter suggests that age (as it is meant by western societies) is purely a discretionary tool and therefore a very subjective dimension.
This is likely to say that in Amondawa culture a man/woman becomes adult after having their first child, despite the fact that they could be aged 14 according to gregorian calendar, while in western states having a child when you are 14 years old creates troubles as well as huge debates about the maturity of the parents (i.e. in 2009 MTV launched “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mum OG”, two american reality-television series, working as social documentaries that hang in the subtle balance between ‘glamorizing pregnancy’ and promoting safe sex).
We are certainly not putting on the same level the two realities experienced by Amondawa tribe and American teens (the field is too wide), but rather we will work on those aspects that overtime contributed to the evolution of the concept of beauty among western mankind, especially in relation with the notions of age and time that, after the Web 2.0 era, seem to assume more and more abstract connotations and are abandoning the constraining limits that occur when adopting quantitative discernments.
It happens that when walking on the street, browsing a magazine or surfing on the web, we are surrounded by advertisement inviting us to take care of our body, train it by running and eat healthy biological food to prevent illness.
The increasing segment of the market related to beauty and body care, lead us thinking about how the concept of beauty is compliant to culture needs and ideals, so as we should consider what is the social attitude towards the natural stage of life concerning ageing in western countries.
Beauty is the glass containing our liquid bodies, it is modeled by time and space, upon which our life is completely devoted. The more these two dimensions go into an entropic stage, the more the talk about beauty as aging prevention carries on atemporal and hyper spacial connotations, which find strong relation within a precious as well as transient moment of life: youth.
“But what life would there be, what joy, without golden Aphrodite? May I die when I be no more concerned with secret love and suasive gifts and the bed, such things as are the very flowers of youth, pleasant alike to man and woman. And when dolorous Age cometh, that make a man both foul without and evil within, ill cares do wear and wear his heart, he hath no more the joy of looking one the sunlight, to children he is hateful, to women contemptible, so grievous hath God made Age.”(Mimnermus, 630-600 BC)
Jon Savage is an english writer and music journalist best known for the publication of ‘England’s Dreaming’ , which tells about the story of one of the most iconic boy-band ever: the Sex Pistols. He also wrote a book entitled ‘Teenage, The creation of youth culture’ (Italian version La Creazione dei giovani, 2007) where he provides us numerous examples in history that hastened what american and european commerce and advertisements would have called “teen-ager” later in the Fifties.
Savage(2007) explores a period that varies from the 19th century to the end of the Forties and describes all the previous youth cultures (from the first teen murder to Apaches, Hooligans, Wandervogels for instance) emerging in the turbulent environments of Paris, London, New York and Berlin.
Hence, from ancient greeks lyrics to modern novels, such as Dickens’ Oliver Twist and Baum’s Wizard of Oz, we also learn that there have been several authors that focused on adolescence as an independent phase in life.
In the book, it is curious the case of Marie Barshkitseff’s secret diary, by which we can read about private feelings that are common to any adolescent’s mind, but also we perceive the emergent need of giving shape to one person’s inner emotions that depend on a variety of conditions and not only to a physical mutation.
If we assume that there is a well-defined wall that stands between the physical and mental condition, then we need to clarify the terms that make this subtle difference.
Defined by some as the “life stages between childhood and adulthood”, its meaning is also involved with a particular mental and social status, which would be independent from others. Pierre Bourdieu(1993:96) suggested that ‘youth is just a word’ and that it ‘has been an evolving concept’ which has developed over the centuries into a social construction. Thus the analysis and the definition of its characteristics has gradually increased the interest of cultural studies as well as the one of the market, which in the 20th century started categorising youthfulness as a well-defined target.
In 1995, italian psychiatrist Vittorino Andreoli put to press the essay “Giovani, Sfida Rivolta Speranze Futuro” in which he deals with several topics concerning an adolescent’s life. Particularly, he makes a distinction from what psychologists mean for adolescents compared with the idea of youth. Therefore, he(Andreoli, 1995) claims:
“Puberty is a biological event while youth is a social invention, there exists as many as youths as the number of existent societies and therefore if we admit that social styles can’t be defined, then youths are undefined too.”3
Andreoli highlights that there is not a biological parameter that would establish the end of youth. Rather, it is imposed by social conventions such as school and more generally by social education.
This aspect is more evident when one society lives under very impressive circumstances like totalitarianism, where a superimposed political thought would condition and then undermine population’s behaviours by imprinting elders ideals on the youngest members of the society, who are likely to believe the world as the old people would present it, and a situation as such reminds us that ‘the logical division between old and young is also a question of power’ (Bourdieu, 1993:94). For instance, Hitler Youth and Italian ‘Sessantottini’, Hippies and Punks are the easiest historical demonstrations of how young people absorb/refuse educational impositions.
In contemporary days, the internet represents an anarchical environment where parental control is not really efficient because of the unlimited open rooms that we discover day by day. Of course, like living the real life, young people tend to escape parents by hanging out in places (like public squares, pubs and discos) where their kinship members would not go, but still, they do have more and more options and the same things is happening for the elders too. Basically, we are suggesting that the very personal exploration of virtual world is somehow enhancing the strength of individualism over the tribalism, but also it is evident how the need of community tends to emerge again as much intense as it was before. The almost instantaneous explosion of lifestyles and fads such as fusion kitchens (sushi burger, anyone?), hipsters checkered shirts, Pokemon Go! reality-game, which people can enjoy alone as well as with others, make evidence of two fundamental characteristics: the international vibe and the ageless convergence.
On the one hand we perceive that there is always a sort of natural mistrust that appears any time within the integration of electronic tools’ in people’s everyday life. On the other hand this cyclical attitude makes evidence of the idea that once we get used to technologies, we do not perceive them as enemies, but instead we learn how to enhance their capabilities while adapting our intellect to a new way of thinking and therefore we use them as we better prefer.
How can youth be described?
Desire of adventure and fear of failure, explosive enthusiasm, power of will, candid confidence and gentle melancholy. Youth is that period of one’s person life studded by tremors and tensions, boisterous nature and pulsating energy, mirrored by the belief of living forever. Youth is the spirit of the universal change, whereby dynamism and vigour that surrounds it then would be helpful for trusting the future (Savage, 2007).
Nowadays that we are living Digital Revolution as a full metamorphosis and rebirth of all cultures, these feelings concern not only young people attitudes, but embody the essence of the global society. We are witnessing to the liquefaction of time, whereas every connection between past, present and future is replaced by the hurry of floating here and there between.
The global market is way more than competitive and international: this contemporary institution, as the State or the Religion, it is influencing how people intend to program their lifetime.
Being fast, versatile and flexible are pillars of global society, as natural consequences of more and more interconnected networks that are strongly transforming our way of communicating.
How many times we hear from people complaining about a very well-known cliché related to job advertisement requiring “young people with experience”? We should not be frightened nor offended, instead it shows the wide expansion of youth duration overtime and the natural assumption that generally we live longer than ever.