Generation Gap 2.0
In internet terms being 33 (my age) is equivalent to being 53 in real life. That’s the slightly depressing conclusion I arrived at after reading this fascinating article. It’s been a long time since there was a true generation gap. Some argue that perhaps 50 years have past since the early days of rock & roll where younger and older generations where so distant in terms of the values, perception of reality and common understanding of the (social) world around us.
Life for those, let’s say, 12-22 years old youngsters who simply don’t know life without/before the internet and mobile phones is immensely different from those of their parents, mainly when it comes to the dynamic, socially constructed line between the private and the public. And the sheer vagueness of the private and the public, the personal and the social to a growing number of young people today can be quite baffling and divisive to their parents.
Concerning the fact that almost 60% of teenagers in the US (anyone knows UK figures?) are creating personal, ‘diary-like’ content via myspace, livejournal etc, these people live their life in a constant state of what Danah Boyd called invisible audiences. Add to the the celebrity worship culture and the fact that we live in an era “where the flow of media content is shaped as much by decisions made in teenagers’ bedrooms as it is by decisions made in corporate boardrooms” (Jenkins) and you start grasping the idea that, in essence, every young person in the connected world has become, in the literal sense, a public figure.
Therefore, what could have been considered as a megalomaniac tendencies when I was a teenager is today a crucial impression-management skills, soon to be learned in school. Socially constructed values and emotions like shame and embarrassment transform rapidly and ideas such as humiliation and fame are are not such easily distinguished quantities.
Very exciting times indeed.