Friday, May 08, 2009

Why mainstream Gen Y isn't buying into the new web (part 2)

Alternate title: The one where Julia further answers her question about why Gen Y seemingly isn't embracing the new web as much as one might think.



Did you watch this video? This is why I don't tweet from my phone. Why I don't use a cell phone camera. Why I try not to blog (heavily) on weekends.

Because I want to LIVE. Not broadcast. But this is getting tougher to do in a time when my generation is accustomed to a culture of availability -- the need to be on all the time.

The Digital Natives blog puts it well when they write (emphasis is mine):
The documentation impulse is our urge to document, via photograph, tweet, etc., the large and small events of our lives. The camera or the cellphone (or cellphone camera) becomes an intrusion into the actual course of events; as Gleeson puts it, it indicates that “Our reality is less interesting than the story I will tell.” The culture of availability reflects our tendency to attend to our buzzing cellphones, even at the expense of our real life conversations. It’s rude, yet , I think many of us are guilty of it. So the culture of availability has a flip side too, and that is the culture of unavailability.

Now, my own experience is hardly a statistical representative of Gen Y's new media behavior. And as Eric J pointed out to me on FriendFeed, Ryan's original article might be based more on growth than membership numbers, thus rendering his whole premise flawed.

But I'm not sure that matters. Because addressing this culture of availability through my own perspective might shed more light on how Gen Y uses technology, not if it's using it.

I choose not to do all the things I listed at the top of this post because I'm going out and actually EXPERIENCING life. This way, I have REAL, TANGIBLE, INTERESTING things, thoughts, opinions, questions to share -- not just my self-selected blogroll or retweets of other folks' ideas.

Sure, I tweet banal things every once in awhile. My posts aren't always thought-provoking. But I don't say amazing things to my friends every second of every day, either, so why put that same pressure on social media? (That's why it's called social media, not "professional formal unattuned-to-human-communications-patterns" media.)

The point is, I really talk to the people in my life. We connect. We commiserate. We laugh. We share. And that creates a meaning far more profound than me sitting at a keyboard dreaming up some strained witticism or hackneyed metaphor that fits in 140 characters or less.

I value relationships -- and the ability to maintain them -- more than the new web. And I think my generation feels the same. Because diving into the latest and greatest tech is not necessarily our goal. Rather, we'll use whatever enables us to live our lives the way we want to, be it hi-tech, low-tech, or no-tech.

Now, there's a goal I will always be available for.

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