Monday, June 15, 2009

Generation Gap

I've recently decided that, in this day and age of quickly-evolving technologies, the time span that determines a "generation" has gotten much shorter. Instead of twenty-five or thirty years, a nearly complete cultural turnover happens in just five or ten. Cell phones. Internet. Facebook. It's all happening so quickly.

These technological instruments of connection were barely around when I was growing up. I graduated from high school without an email address, and without internet in my home. I graduated from college having never held a cell phone. Online social networking didn't exist as such yet.

My brother, on the other hand, is just five years younger than me. When I hang out with him and his friends these days, I feel old. Like actually almost irrelevant, old. The lingo is different. The attitudes are different. The volume of "friends" they claim is radically different, and the substance of those friendships is different -- or at least it appears so from the outside looking in. But by all normal standards, we're part of the same generation.

Facebook is the best example. I see the site as fun, but it makes me uncomfortable at the same time, because this "Friend" business is a little overstated. To me it is entertainment, perhaps a marketing tool, but certainly something shallow, only the fa├žade of actual connection. But my brother can argue with me for hours about why online sites represent a very real and meaningful way to connect.

I don't like the idea of social networking as a replacement for actual physical contact. I don't like the idea that having lots of contacts is celebrated over connecting deeply with a small group. But I guess, at my age, I'm right on the cusp of realizing this change, because so many of those who are coming up behind me don't see what the issue is.

Which "generation" do you belong to?

1 comment:

sally said...

I think the beauty of social media is that you get what you want out of it. For people who crave the physical interaction, there are Tweet-ups, Meetups, blog parties, etc. Conferences are also a great place to meet with the people you've built online relationships with. For example, when I went to WAM! a few months ago, I finally got to spend time with some of my favorite bloggers and people who I've been building relationships with on Twitter. It was great because instead of getting lost in the shuffle, I had a core group of people I could turn to before even getting to the conference.

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