We are the iGeneration – as in iPod, iPad, iMac, etc. We are everything someone like Steve Jobs hoped we would be; craving information, design, status, connection. We will most likely lead to a new medical condition too: iFatigue or something similar. Because our greatest fear is missing out.
We have smartphones so we can check our work e-mails when we happen to wake up in the middle of the night from a bad dream, which more than likely originated from a horror ebook we read earlier, or the gory YouTube video we watched on the very same gadget. We dread Internetlessness. We wouldn’t mind not having a phone, because we don’t like talking to people anyway – we’d rather text them, or better still, IM.
We multitask to our own detriment. Interestingly enough, a friend highlighted one of the anxiously-anticipated iPad’s failures as the inability to have more than one window/screen/tab/app open. We are about multiple tabs. We listen to audio books while driving, eating, writing a letter to your mother, and not realising that we are missing out on the experience; the scenic route, the delicate balance of flavours and textures, the emotion of longing, the smell and feel of a new book that has its spine cracked for the first time. We don’t think about it, so it doesn’t bother us. You can’t miss what you don’t know you don’t have. And then you realise you missed your turn somewhere because you weren’t concentrating on the road. Or someone cut you off in traffic and you missed half a chapter because you were swearing at them. The price we pay for multitasking is never having the full experience. That could be a good thing or a bad thing – depending on the event.
As I am typing this, I’m listening to music, checking my e-mail and catching up on my Twitter-stream. I can’t help it – I’ve mutated to live this way. I was born Generation X and raised on outdoor playing, drive-in theatres, libraries and so-called snail mail. I did ballet, played chess on a wooden board with wooden pieces, had a home-cooked meal at least once a day, every day. I first used the Internet when I was in high school; got my first encyclopaedia on disk after school and only in 1999 experienced a chat room – and I was by no means a late bloomer (although far from a trendsetter too).
I try to imagine how the next generation will experience life. They will have to Google things like VHS (not to mention Betamax!), Moomin, Die Pikkewouters van Amperstamperland and various other television shows we watched. I can’t find books of Victoria Plum anywhere, and I love that little pixie in her Morning Glory outfit. The programmes we used to watch were about friendship and teamwork, not alien watches, robot-cars or games played with alien elements that fell from the sky. I read comics about Superman and The Incredible Hulk – today they are only known as movie and game characters. The next generation, I imagine, will be utterly bored by text-based adventure games like “The Talisman of Braminar” (my absolute favourite), the ancient graphics of “California Games”, and shocked to see the first archaeological copy of “Prince of Persia”.
The next generation has been born what we have become – the trendsetters, the connected, an iGeneration. Petrified of not being informed, of not being ahead of the curve, of switching off, of not owning the latest gadget.
Despite all our desperate attempts, we are physically not able to process all the information in the wide world via the web – even if we could access it all. So isn’t it time to step back and simplify? I’m sure someone’s already in the process of developing that app.