"Grandfluencers" take Tiktok by storm

Tiktok's user demographics famously skew young, but that doesn't mean older adults can't make it big on the video-sharing app— the AP ran a story this month on "grandfluencers," adults over 70 who build digital platforms. Over the weekend, an account called @retirementhouse introduced TikTok to four elderly adults: Peaches, Mabel, Hubert, and Eugene— and their account has gained followers at a stunning rate. 

In their first video, the crew introduces themselves in a beautiful, modern house. User @sarahclandry commented 'Is Peaching accepting applications for granddaughters? I'd like her to adopt me,' to which @retirementhouse responded "Yes I am honey -Peaches."

In the account's most-watched video (7.8 million views in one day), Eugene models a very dapper outfit he says he'll wear on a date. 


Is the phone clip too much? -Eugene

♬ original sound – xxtristanxo

"A group of people got popular on the internet" is hardly breaking news, but I'm fascinated by the account's engineered wholesomeness. It takes part in up-to-the-minute trends that feed into the algorithm, but its main characters aren't the conventionally attractive young people we're used to seeing in this setting. Perhaps I'm so interested because I recently finished Hit Makers by Derek Thompson, a book about the 'familiar surprise': ideas fresh enough to be interesting but old enough to be palatable. The @retirementhouse account mimics Tiktok's 'collab houses,' but with a wholesome, elderly bend that people love. It's similar to @oldgays, a Tiktok account of retirement-age queer men who giving "Golden Girls a run for their money."

Something about @retirementhouse is eerily sophisticated—so sophisticated that commenters are wondering if Peaches, Mabel, Hubert, and Eugene are 'a social experiment' or 'young people wearing old makeup.' There are certain indicators of high production value: the house's posh interior, the consistent replies to comments, and the use of trending sounds that indicate an intimate understanding of Gen Z. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that the account appears to be associated with 23-year-old Tiktok-savvy rapper Jack Harlow, who has 2.3 million followers of his own. Harlow's name is a hashtag in their first video and he's the only person it follows. I can't help but question the entire schtick— are the four characters all paid actors just playing a part?

Regardless, whatever's going on here is quite charming.