Digital squatters

The ultimate word on that “digital natives” crap, from Lynn:

I keep reading this stuff about how today’s kids, teens, and twenty-somethings are “digital natives” — that they have never known a world in which there were no computers or cell phones and therefore they are almost like a different species from us older folk who just don’t quite “get” all this new technology. The truth is that in all age groups there are both technophiles and technophobes, just as in every generation there are people who can work on cars and people to whom anything mechanical is mysterious and confusing.

People my age who grew up watching Star Trek have been waiting for these gadgets for over half our lives. I wanted a smart phone years before the things even existed. The smartest and most ambitious did not wait. They made it all happen. Digital natives? My generation created this digital world we live in now. What does that make us?

All else being equal, the person who gets credit for something these days is the person who, in the judgment of the individual writing the article about it, most resembles the individual writing the article about it. Who would have though there could be such a thing as shared narcissism?

I’ve never seen anyone my age who couldn’t learn this stuff, given time and a little bit of effort, and that remains true even as my age spirals out of sight. We may be mere digital immigrants, but I’m betting we take our citizenship more seriously, if only because we never took it for granted.



  1. fillyjonk »

    14 August 2014 · 6:19 pm

    One of my few concessions to curmudgeonhood in the classroom is to tell my students they will never fully appreciate how wonderful the online journal article databases (which some complain are “hard”) are, because they never had to use the bound “Biological Abstract” books, which were big and heavy enough to break a toe if you dropped them on your foot.

  2. Roger Green »

    14 August 2014 · 6:33 pm

    I wallow in blissful ignorance of texting or being texted. I DON’T WANT TO BE AVAILABLE all the time.

  3. Tom »

    14 August 2014 · 9:41 pm

    The thing I fear most about MOOCs is that they’ll accelerate the isolation of young people who never learned social skills. “Digital natives?” They’re being condemned to lives of social isolation, and jobs devoid of human interaction, a/k/a call center operators and reservation agents. Last I checked those jobs were being offshored to English-speakers in LDCs who were paid a fraction of the US minimum wage.

  4. CGHill »

    14 August 2014 · 9:51 pm

    My own social skills being questionable at best, I suppose I should consider myself fortunate to have something resembling an online persona that is not wholly different from my in-person persona.

  5. McGehee »

    14 August 2014 · 9:58 pm

    Why are people so convinced that “proper socialization” is impossible without formal supervision?

  6. CGHill »

    14 August 2014 · 10:14 pm

    It’s their definition of “proper” more than anything else.

  7. fillyjonk »

    15 August 2014 · 5:28 am

    Roger: YES SO MUCH THIS. I only turn my cell phone on when I’m expecting a call or am somewhere (like out in the field) where being able to call someone quickly in an emergency is important.

    Tom: I worry about that too. One of the things that really goes unspoken about the “digital natives” stuff is that there are some people who are going uncivilized. It’s being hinted we start teaching “soft skills” like how to shake hands properly and, dear God, table manners. To our college students.

    I mean, I thought some things were still the parents’ jobs, no?

  8. jsallison »

    15 August 2014 · 8:25 pm

    What parents?

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