The VPM Blog

The [Generational] Digital Divide

Posted by Piper.vpm on Jun 12, 2013 4:56:54 AM

In today’s fast-paced, technologically-noisy world, people communicate with smart phones and computers more often than they do face-to-face. Or at least it feels that way. Millennials walk around staring at their 3 inch screen with headphones in their ears, so connected to their own world yet so disconnected from what’s around them.

The sidewalk has become a very dangerous place, as nobody is ever watching where they’re going. As a result, the pedestrian collision ratio has skyrocketed. But it’s too risky to be caught looking away from your phone. What if a stranger approaches you and wants to -- talk -- I know, they’d be out of their mind, right? Literally running into them sounds better to Millennials than putting themselves in the position to have a spontaneous face to face conversation.

Despite the on foot dangers, Millennials are the technology generation, and they’re leaving Generation X behind. It’s not to say that X’ers are completely incompetent in the technology department. After all, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, founders of society’s main source of information, Google, are Generation X members.

But, a generational digital divide exists.

Generation X is comfortable with email and using Google as their personal assistant -- many have even ventured into the Facebook world. However, many members' knowledge of technology does not seem to extend far beyond those limits.

Yesterday Don and the interns ventured to the movie theatre to see The Internship where the hilarious Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson land an internship at Google alongside college students. Immediately, they realize they are in way over their heads as they know nothing about technology and are, ironically, interning at the technology company.

Throughout the movie they struggle to keep up with their fellow interns. They know nothing about coding, in fact, they don’t even know what coding is. In their first task as interns they were asked to find a bug in the system, and the two literally thought they were looking for the word ‘bug.’ They were brainstorming ideas like ‘fly’ while the rest of the interns were solving the coding problem.

Later while developing an app, Vince was trying to describe putting something ‘online,’ but instead he continued to call it putting it ‘on the line.’ Vince and Owen were in a perpetual state of confusion throughout the movie, not understanding any of the tech jargon the Millenial interns seemed to be well versed in -- like ‘online.’

The “genius” interns all found them annoying, even pitying them, and definitely did not want their help in any way. Some taunted them while others used their cluelessness against them, sending Vince and Owen on ridiculous tasks just to laugh at them.

Okay, so maybe X’ers understand the concept of putting something ‘online’ and Millennials are not blatantly rude to those who don’t have a tight grasp on technology, but the movie has a lot of truth behind it. Technology is rapidly changing society, and the Millennials are the ones pushing it along.

The Millennials can learn from the Gen X’ers too, though. The divide is a two way street.

As technology develops, human relations are seeming to suffer. In The Internship, as useless as Vince and Owen were when it came to coding and developing apps, they taught their fellow interns how to connect with people offline. They showed them the world beyond a phone screen, and the interns were amazed at what they found. Spoiler alert: as a result of their people skills, Vince and Owen ended up landing a job at Google after the internship was over.

While The Internship may have exaggerated, it still illustrated the very real digital divide between generations. The Millenials are tangled in a network of technology and they’re only developing more, leaving Generation X behind. Although it may sound disheartening, don’t lose all hope. If Vince and Owen can land a job at Google while knowing absolutely nothing about technology, X’ers can learn to use a smartphone. And hey, the Millennials can learn a few things from the X’ers as well.

###

Author: Piper Donnelly is our Summer Editor, Word-Smith and Communications Connoisseur here at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/4874936920/

Topics: development