I recently read an article on LinkedIn entitled What it feels like to be the last generation to remember life before the internet by Magali Lopez, Ed.D. She discusses two recent books that examine the qualitative, everyday difference between socializing online and off, and noting that it is easy to judge your own worth on how many “likes” your profile picture has gotten. I am one of those who has experienced both the BI and the AI (Before Internet and After Internet) worlds. Working all day with, and being a mom to, millennial generation adolescents, I have had a chance to observe first-hand the difference the Internet has made in our lives.
1) Constant Connection — Millennial teens always have a smart phone within buzzing distance, and it goes off literally thousands of times a day. Whether it’s a text message or a SnapChat or an Instagram picture, they’re in constant touch with their network. I personally would find this maddening, but it is accepted as a commonplace part of life. Sometimes I wonder why I’m so unpopular–why don’t I get a thousand buzzes a day? Another aspect of constant connectedness is the willingness to share everything–pictures, information, opinions, etc–online. I think my generation was taught to be a lot less sharing with information.
2) The Deification of Technology–While millennials are quick to adopt and learn to use new technologies, I have noticed that the word and concept of “technology” has taken on an almost mystical status among non-millennials (BI’s), who are always looking forward to the next “best thing.” Tech developers create a mystique around newer, smaller, gadgets and faster, more biometric, more geo-location capable apps. Voice, fingerprint, and face recognition technologies are emerging into the consumer electronics sector. It’s true that data can be measured, tabulated, and communicated in modes many orders higher than previously. It is also true that following Moore’s Law, the speed and efficiency of technological devices doubles approximately every two years. And it is futher true, as Arthur C. Clarke remarked, that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That which we can’t understand must be magic. Businesses, individuals, and the education industry are swept up in the promise of this new, magical technology, which to some seems to take on almost divine proportions. Its followers are the believers who don’t yet fully understand its scope or implications, but who nonetheless sense that by purchasing on the “cutting edge,” they are headed toward the light of superior knowledge and power. They know innately that it is better to be associated with those who have the latest technology than with those who don’t. Companies such as Apple and Google capitalize on the magic, almost religious cachet of their products, perpetuating the heat-seeking cult of the techno-divine.