I meet a lot of technophobes in my job. They all say some variation of “I just don’t understand technology these days.” They aren’t all baby boomers, either. There’s a mental hurdle that they can’t overcome, and it’s got nothing to do with age. In today’s world, operating a computer is about as complicated as driving. If you think about it, the complexity of the tasks are similar. There are hundreds of rules, and we navigate a complicated pathway to get to our destinations every day. So, why can someone capable of learning to drive be unable to use a computer?
They can’t make the mental leap from the old world where information was presented to them (TV, Radio, Newspaper, etc.) to the new world of The Google and the Internets. In the new world, we have to know the questions before we find the answers. I think there are more than a few people who buy a computer and stare at Google’s home page for an hour before returning it, and they dismiss the technology because of that experience. “Facebookers” and non Facebookers are generationaly separated. The personal running dialog, even the purified version we present, is something “they” can’t do. Twitter?! that’s way too personal.
I started to wonder what kind of advance might leave me behind. It happened to them, it can happen to me. If I have a twitter account, but never tweet, have I already missed the boat? I followed Steve Martin for a week while he was on vacation, but never figured out where. I don’t think Twitter is a generational technology, but the new era of personal expression may be. “They’ll post anything without thinking about the consequences”. I hear that all the time, too.
Could it be that simple? “Parasail ride today, going to museum later” . That’s probably good enough for us old timers who don’t want to be completely left behind… but the new age of expression will have more Paris Hilton than Steve Martin. After 10 years of American Idol and Survivor, the short term splash is more important than long term career opportunities. We’re going to have to accept people who have these I-Blemishes, because it’s going to be the norm in a few years. When the twitter generation becomes the decision making generation, “personal indiscretion” will have a different definition.