Sunday, July 8, 2012

Talking About My Generation

We've all had this conversation at one point or another with friends - both marveling at and judging the lack of internet savvy by our parents. I just had another one this morning. I can basically summarize it to: Why is it so difficult for them to send emails? I couldn't say what number this particular conversational occurrence was, but it's well into the double digits. It wasn't until recently that I exchanged the first text with my mother (Although in fairness, she lives internationally, or technically, I guess I'm the one that does.) and it's been a struggle to get both of my parents to see the use of and need for communicating over the internet that way. It seems like moms always say, "Why not just pick up the phone and call?" It set me to wondering out loud what would be the advancement in technology that sets my generation apart from the one that follows. 

One of my friends quickly pointed out that it would not be just the one, and then we both set to begrudgingly admitting that disruption was probably already here in the resistance we both feel for social media. It was not a good feeling. I certainly liked to think that I'd be much better at technological adaptation than my parents. I was seduced by the idea that because I am apart of the generation that came online as teenagers with the internet - arguably the most defining advance in technology for the past two generations - that I would be predisposed to such flexibility. After getting shoved off that elitist plateau, I readily admit to not taking a deep liking to social media. I've never questioned myself as to why that is though. The default answer has been that I'm more private than most. Just the mere thought of sharing what I'm thinking with friends is already a bit much for me (sorry loved ones!), let alone sharing these thoughts publicly. Still, the privacy answer seems commonplace and superficial. 

If I dig deeper there's probably some form of vulnerability I feel in starting over, of recreating a hard earned identity in real life for an online one. It's a realization of the effort and time that takes. It's also a bit of the classic: why change anything that's working? None of that is so surprising I guess. You wouldn't be a very astute student of human nature if you didn't predict inertia and resistance in response to such a significant change. If I fight past those reflexive defenses, however, I can see the value of social media (sharing, connecting, bolstering ties, etc). Ironically, I see it most clearly in a business context (probably because I'm in the middle of a job search...). What better way have we discovered to judge people over time than by what they think and produce? A resume seems grossly deficient in this day and age. I would rather be judged by the content and merit in my thoughts, projects and actions online than have those assumed in my absence after a one hour encounter over one sheet of paper. The more information we have the better decisions we can make. And if I am diligent enough I can control my own chunk of big data.

I'm sure that just begins to peel back the layers, but whatever the reasons I feel such a resistance, as a direct result, I was most certainly a late comer to Facebook, this is technically my first blog post (under my real name at least), and I have only just signed up for a Twitter account (also the first under my real name @simmserely). I guess we'll see where this goes. Don't judge me if I relapse. 

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