Professor Benjamin Akande, Webster University Dean of Business and Technology, describes the latest generation as “internet-savvy, phone-addicted, opportunistic and digitally conscious.”
Calling them iPoders, Akande says they number over 115 million and are the first generation to be raised exclusively on computers.
They have never had to manually turn on a t.v. They have never had to wonder who was on the other end of a ringing phone. And they all know how to type.
I work with this generation every day. They make up my staff. They are my nephews. And they are just now beginning to enter the work force.
I have to agree with Akande’s conclusions: the biggest lesson these kids have to learn is patience.
Although I exist in a world where I have to know and do all things web, my approach to my work is markedly different: I know that some times things are best left for a better time, some decisions need more input to gain concensus. These work habits were learned from experience.
Yes, some of the iPoders just need time to develop experience. But other generational differences exist purely based upon cultural shifts.
My nephew and his one-time girlfriend spent an entire drive back from the movies in the back seat TEXTING (I bet you thought I was going to say something else). They didn’t talk to each other, they texted each other.
These kids have, literally, thousands of friends on FaceBook. Their whole idea of “friendship” is different from yours or mine.
My idea of friendship is based upon shared time, experience and values. Instead, for iPoders, friendship is almost a tag game of, “I see you! You’re my friend now.” There is little sense of loyalty. If there is a disagreement, they just un-friend you.
Which brings up the issue of trust: most iPoders seeing nothing unusual about developing meaningful relationships online. Face-to-face encounters aren’t necessary. But what happens when trust crosses paths with cultural differences? Can we truly trust someone who does not share the same community-based beliefs? Or will we see new communities, and therefore, new beliefs, develop?
My latest best example of the development of online community values is David Pogue’s recent gaff. A NYTimes Technology columnist, he was a new twitter convert. One night, in all of his fumblings, he accidently twittered his mobile phone number to his 21,000 followers.
Fearing mischief and mayhem, he sent out a “Please don’t re-tweet!” Fearing the worst, he went to bed.
Upon waking, he checked his phone. Not one person had called.
So maybe this iPod generation knows a thing or two. Maybe my nephews will grow up to change the world. Maybe they will use their digital prowess for good, not evil.