“So when you get a text,” my friend says slowly, “you first respond to what they say, and then you have to answer with a question to keep the conversation going.” She is a fabulous and attractive woman in her mid-forties, now venturing into the waters of online dating. I nod, commiserating. I’ve been down this road myself, having spent the better part of a year navigating Tinder, Ok Cupid, and Plenty of Fish.
“Right?” I say, “I found that too, when I was dating online.” I sigh. “It’s amazing how many people don’t get it and just drop the ball. They don’t ask the question. Obviously, you have to put that question in there at the end, otherwise it just stops.”
“Wow,” a new voice.
We both turn to see Jared. Jared is a young, handsome, 20-something with a godlike social media presence. Savvy, smart, sharp.
My eyes narrow slightly, “Wow, what, Jared.”
“It’s amazing that you have to learn that.”
We look at each other. “What do mean.”
Jared explains, he is earnest, “My generation, we just know that kind of stuff intrinsically. You ask the question, because that’s how to keep a conversation going. It’s how my generation was brought up. We don’t even think about it. But you two, well, you’re….”
“Old?” I offer.
“…A different generation.” Jared smiles, “You have to learn it. It’s not innate.” He looks at us, “Wow, it’s so interesting.” He bounds away.
My girlfriend and I look back at each other again. “Well,” I sigh, “at least we’re not writing letters.”
“International public relations watchdog Trendwatching.com recently identified a new ‘Generation C’ (for ‘content’, in the first place) as successor to X and Y (2005). While previous generational groupings had also been decried as the ‘Generation We’ – interested mainly in their own advance and pleasure in work and life, with scant regard for the common good or an equitable distribution of resources and knowledge –, Generation C is said to be distinctly different: most notably, it is the generation responsible for the development of open source software, legal and illegal music filesharing, creative content sites such as YouTube or Flickr, citizen journalism, and the massively multi-user knowledge management exercise, Wikipedia. Indeed, one consequence of such efforts (as well as a necessary prerequisite for their sustainability) is that this Generation C exhibits a strong preference for the establishment of a knowledge commons over a proprietary hoarding of information, and (though not inherently anti-commercial) tends to support those corporations who work with users and are seen to be strong contributors to the common good rather than profiteering from it.”
Beyond Difference: Reconfiguring Education for the User-Led Age, Dr Axel Bruns