Amazon's over-50 store makes me puke

Back in the 1990s, I coined the phrase "cusper" -- or thought I did -- to refer to people like me who were born at the end of the Baby Boom era but didn't share the generation's values. In January 2001, I registered the .com, .net and .org variants of cusper and cuspers. For a reason. I am a Cusper. But I never properly used the domains (someday! someday!) and later let the .org variants go. This year I re-acquired cusper.org for $3.99 domain registration. Some nutcase wants $3,000 at auction for cuspers.org. Good luck.

So much aimed at Boomers doesn't apply to me, or others of my tweener generation. Amazon's new "50+ Active & Healthy Living", which opens today, is another affront. If being over 50 is a lifestyle that Boomers boast, or Amazon wants to sell them, let me out of here. I want no part of it. I don't read their kind of books or listen to their style of music or swallow vitamins like they popped pills of a more illicit type in their youth.

My first reaction to the new Amazon store: Why would anyone want to shop someplace that makes them feel old? I may be over 50 but identify more with younger folks or those of my generation, like President Barack Obama, who still evoke vitality and youth (surely his daughters' energy helps there). I don't obsess about vitamins, don't want to shop anywhere prominently promoting adult diapers or see model images of the elderly. Hell, describing the store makes me feel old. Yuck. It's why I would never move to an old folks community or retirement state like Florida. What? To be old?

Adult Diapers R Us

"We’re excited to offer customers in the 50+ age range a place to easily discover hundreds of thousands of items that promote active and healthy living", Amazon's Chance Wales says. "This is a destination where a customer can purchase anything from vitamins and blood pressure monitors to skin care items and books on traveling the world".

The sagging balls this company has. I'm quite shocked that among the benefits touted in the official announcement is category "incontinence". What's aspirational about getting old and wearing diapers? Oh, yeah, I so aspire to live that lifestyle.

Yet, there's something sadly appropriate about Amazon's 50+ store, which by generation for now really appeals more to Baby Boomers. The retailer is welcome to them.

Aren’t Boomers supposed to be the love, peace and protest generation that refused to conform to the stuffy suits of their parents’ generation? Now look at them. They're geriatric and more like their parents every day.

Boomers are a huge economic force, and it's not surprising that Amazon wants to tap the well. But there is another. The generation coming of age now -- Millennials/Next-Geners -- are about as large a group. They come to adulthood at a time when technology takes knowledge long the propriety of the old and gives it to the young. I watch fascinated as these two cultures clash.

Boomers Busted

Baby Boomers, are in my book, the self-centered generation. The freedom their generation craved -- to have lots of sex with anyone anywhere, to trip on drugs whenever and wherever and to protest war so they wouldn't have to serve in it -- is all about self. Mottos like "make love, not war" boasted higher ideals but were really about saving themselves first before anyone else. Their do-good persona is undeserved.

I entered college just as punk rock, and the rebellious lifestyle with it, swept from the United Kingdom across the globe. Cuspers didn't protest the generation separating their parents but the cultural gulf with their Boomer siblings. Cuspers shook off disco music and polyester clothes for spiked hair, piercings and tattoos -- what today is lifestyle for some was rebellion in my teens.

In my youth, Generation Xers were called Baby Busters, which is hilarious and somewhat appropriate. I claim no affinity with either group, having been born between them. I certainly don’t share those touchy-feely, let’s-not-be-responsible-to-anybody values of the Boomers. However, I share some of their idealism. Likewise, I shine to some of the realistic, work-hard-and-be-successful values of Xers.

Since I started referring to "cuspers" in the 1990s, and after acquiring the domains in 2001, others caught on -- or perhaps had similar ideas around the same time. There are several books and guides available that refer to "cuspers" as a subcategory of Baby Boomers, but there's some dispute about who belongs in it. Typical range is 1960-65 or 1954-65. Most of the academic literature focuses on the workplace and employee management, but more recently there is increased emphasis on marketing.

Perhaps Amazon's over-50 store reflects some of that marketing research. Go back to the books, Jeff Bezos. I won't shop there.

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