In the late 1970s, equipped with the jazzy management degrees, when a couple of us twenty something joined service, the seniors were awed into silence by our wunderkind management jargons, unheard of by them. They’d feel subdued and make a fizzing sound. But then they’d soon console themselves into arguing that, by the time these management wizards were of their age, they too would be filled with awe when some newest of the new generation whiz kids showed an unbelievable genius in popping off techno-speaks & clicking the very latest gadgets.
Veterans were absolutely correct. We, the baby boomer generation, that grew up working with typewriters, telephones, scooters and cars to commute to work have had difficult time to cope with the changing lifestyle, ditto our predecessors. Technology may open doors, but can’t force people to walk through them. The fear of computers-the Cyber phobia---developed due to the lack of technological literacy is an intense and persistent fear of being around. The baby boomer generation is kind of Luddites, wary of new technology. We prefer a low-tech approach to living our lives. Many of us fear cell phones, Blackberries, and other new and modern gadgets, such as iPods and other MP3 players. Use of computers may be real deterrent to our careers, communication, and even relationships. We often report feelings of longing for the “good old days”, when computers were not an important facet of workplaces, social networking, and other such things.
With Bill Gate’s microprocessors having become an in-thing it happened to catch my (my teenage son’s as well) fancy, nearly a decade and half back, to be a pride owner of ‘desktop’. It was as if the ownership would bestow me with the honour of one-upmanship over relatives and friends (with little or no computer savvy) and then guests admiring and thinking high of the gizmo ( & me) for adorning the small library at my home. Despite wife voting nay and opposing tooth and nail, the ‘buy’ was made. The kids, particularly my teenage son, were on top of world, on cloud nine. The techie came to install the apparatus. He taught tidbits, which my kids alone could comprehend and remember.
In their frenzy to get a hold onto the system, click on ‘Delete key' or the like, by the warring parties, would send it packing into digital darkness. Nobody would own the responsibility. Dilly dallying, I would make obligatory rounds of the much-sought-after techie to reset and reboot the system. The upshot; I would pay through my nose, for my dear kid’s misadventure. As if it were a God given opportunity, wife, who never reconciled with the idea of owning computer, would nag the poor ‘me’ for the poor performance of children in school exams and pour scorn for the misadventure of the computer-spend. Curfew kind of restrictions that followed meant that for some days nobody dared touch the system let alone talk about it. Keys of the room seized, the Iron Lady would hide them without leaving a trail behind.
For the Gen-x kids are weaned on the iPods and high tech video games, it makes them freedom minded, individualistic, and self-absorbed. As I am writing this piece, my son has since qualified as a computer engineer to be absorbed in a high profile IT Company. But as and when he visits home he is kind of grown into “Content Creator”. Oblivious of his surroundings, he is glued to his laptop (of late to his Smartphone with headphone) without respite. His lap top is his-kind-of-a-thing. No books, no thumbing through of daily newspapers and no viewing of television programs. For him the laptop is not a box, the laptop is the doorway. Much to his surprise, with no formal training in the computers, his (teeny bopper) sis and (preteen) cousins seem to be far more computer savvy than him. The click on the mouse (and operation of keyboard) with a lightning speed awes one into the kind of silence and shock, ditto elders, when they saw us management whiz kids 30 years back.
NetGen have five to seven instant massaging windows open at any time. When they are connected to the Net they are doing so socially. Being connected using apps and networking has become an “in-thing” for them today. They expect connectivity in virtually every device they use---from cameras to toothbrushes----they want to be living in the networked society, in which everything that benefits from connection will be connected. While surfing through the internet, the young netizens can be seen engaged themselves into myriad activities, including creating blogs or personal websites, sharing original content such as artwork, photos, stories or videos and remising content found online into a new creation (online services like Jump Cut make it ludicrously easy to make and remix movies). With the new web the internet is no longer about idly surfing and passively reading, listening, or watching. It is about peering; sharing, socializing, collaborating and most of all, creating within loosely connected communities.
My children hardly read newspapers or at least in traditional way. They find their (commodity) news free on internet. And they’re more likely to discover news through browsing a traditional newspaper online. For children information produced and disseminated online behaves differently from physical books, magazines and newspapers. Smart phones that children use are already a sort of personal, always- connected-computers in their pockets. They use them for games, as maps, to listen to music or to take and share pictures. The idea of using them as wallets, keys, even identification or to serve as our personal documents is starting to happen now and how these services develop in the future is only limited by our imagination. The availability of life-changing technology at competitive prices is apt to redefine Digital Lifestyle. Digital Divide now takes into consideration access, or lack of access, to the Internet, as well. I may be computer savvy, at least to the extent of visiting Net or scribbling a page or two, but then I make no bones to admit that treading into a (NetGen) domain where Luddites can’t dare, is certainly not the kind of my métier.