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September 28, 2006

David Betancourt's Feeling Old

When Paul Simon sings about what it feels like to get old in his 2000 song "Old," he's thinking about the battle when the young man finds himself not quite so young anymore. When I went to see Simon & Garfunkel in concert a couple of times during their last run, it was quite surreal to see these two men on stage, singing about "how terribly strange to be 70," a song written about observing two old men at a park bench written when they were in their 20s and now sung by two guys who are nearing the age of those old men they observed.

But David Betancourt, a columnist with the Washington Post, writes about his struggle with getting old in his column early this week. And Betancourt is only 26.

Betancourt examines some of the misconceptions of looking at a technologically savvy 20-something market, pointing out that every year of age seems divided these days by the technology that divides them. Considering the amount of technological innovation that comes through from one year to the next, Betancourt points out that the technological divide between himself and his two younger sisters is a growing chasm that he doesn't feel he can navigate.

Betancourt writes about his sister in college who his hooked to a BlackBerry and his younger sister, 12, who communicates most heavily through text messaging. Betancourt writes:

Ashley and Bianca would roll their eyes at me and laugh.

But that's okay because I know that someday soon, Dakota, my 4-year-old sister who has yet to discover technology but soon will, is going to make them feel as old as they're making me feel now.

The column is a clever and anecdotal report from Belancourt but indicative of the complicated demographic divides that exist in 20-somethings and complicates lumping these viewers together. The cultural and technological experience of consumers only a couple of years apart does become a significant divide considering the amount of new products or new services released from one year to the next, such as the casual adoption of the BlackBerry, the development of increasingly sophisticated cell phones, the video iPod, and the list goes on and on.

Thanks to Joshua Green for bringing the article to my attention.

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