I turned 36 earlier this month, which makes it half my life that I’ve been an anarchist, a vegan, and a DIY culture maker. I was exposed to these philosophies through punk music and zines in my teens, and it’s a bit of an aberration that the ideas I encountered in a youth subculture are still relevant to me at this time in my life. But they introduced me to ways of thinking about the world and empowering practises that are still true and useful to me now, and I’m grateful I encountered them.
And so while I don’t care about whether I’m old or not, I do care about youth subcultures. I’m a product of them, I propagate their ideas, but I am no longer young. Until recently I was correcting friends and family who were telling me that I was old that — actually — I had one more year of youth. For years I’ve been saying that 37 is officially old. Because it’s not really mid-30s, is it? It’s more… late 30s. And late 30s, let’s face it, is practically 40. Which is old.
However, I was wrong. For me, at least, 36 is old. It’s all about The Dad Voice.
We had a kid last October. At first, I confused The Dad Voice with The Paranoid Voice, the overly cautious killjoy of an inner voice I often ignore without consequence. But recently I’ve been realizing that The Dad Voice is right. Like, all the time. That little voice that says you shouldn’t leave Sidney sitting on the couch? Whoa — there she goes — caught her just in time. That voice that says maybe it’ll annoy Susan if you start moving desks around in the middle of the day, maybe you should ask her first? Yep, that was something that totally could have been avoided. That voice that says, maybe you should have some lunch before you start losing your mind? Yes. Eating makes everything OK again.
As you see, it’s sometimes kid-related, but not always. It’s a broader shift in my mindset that’s making me more conservative. I’ve always felt that babies are the most conservatising force on earth, in that they give you a reason to care more about security than freedom, and now I’m seeing it from the inside out.
I am already following The Dad Voice without question. Which is disturbing, but change often is. On the pro side, being well clear of the 18-34 demographic causes most ads to fall laughably short of their target. Less energy spent being infuriated means more energy to feed Sidney.