Greetings from the digital divide

Thanks to Tom Hopkins for sharing this with me. A friend of his has just written a great article for the Spectator, looking at the variation in technology adoption between generations.

Her main point is that it’s actually we gen X-ers that are behind the 8 ball, and not our parents as you might first think.

Could it be that the wired retired are the new digital trailblazers? Not only does this demographic group have the money to invest in new technology, they also have the time to invest in understanding how to use it and, perhaps most importantly of all, they have a compelling reason to use it — their grandchildren.

We can be proud that our young people are not Luddites. Those under the age of 24 constantly astound me with their level of technology knowledge even if they don’t consider themselves to be ‘techie’.

So the real Digital Luddites lie, I believe, somewhere in between our web-saturated youth and the wired retired. It’s the busy professionals, too frazzled from family, too washed out from work, who are simply too tired and scared to engage and explore new digital technologies. They feel they have enough technology to contend with during working hours to let it interfere with their leisure time.

She’s certainly pointing the finger in the right direction, but I’m not sure I agree with the ‘tired and scared’ bit. Personally, I’d go for ‘smart’…

I know about a bunch of neat toys and technologies, but to be honest I really can’t be arsed with most of ’em. I’ll pick and choose the bits I feel will make my life that much easier or more interesting, but I’m buggered if I have the time or inclination to be constantly trying out the latest gizmo to see if it’s any good – I can let the kids and old people do that for me, while I’m using the toys I already have to make FAT piles of cash and have a really good time.

I follow the tech media quite closely, and the pace is astonishing. ‘The next big thing’ comes out pretty much every day, makes a bunch of noise, and then (mercifully) tends to either fly or flop in a short space of time. What’s the big deal in being an early adopter? A mate of mine had a gen 1 iPod, and it fucking sucked. I’ve been a Joost beta tester since the very beginning, but I’ll be straight-up and concede that it’s only just starting to be worth the effort now that they’ve ironed out (most of) the bugs and sourced a decent selection of content. Adult Friend Finder? How much fun would that have been when its membership consisted of a couple dozen college kids and a hooker from Fresno?

Call me a Luddite if you want. I don’t fear technological advancement, I just can’t be bothered taking part in unpaid, laborious (and in many cases actually quite expensive) market research and beta testing. My 5th generation iPod kicks ass, and I didn’t have to sue anybody!


2 Responses to “Greetings from the digital divide”

  1. 1 Amelia August 5, 2007 at 12:42 am

    Hi, glad that you enjoyed the article.

    It’s funny that you picked up on a phrase that I thought a lot about, “too tired and scared”. I do think that a lot of our generation don’t want to try new technology as they are scared that they might get it wrong and look like an arse, so maybe you are right that they can’t be arsed.

    I guess that my point is that most of the 30-40 somethings that I know are working too hard, be it in the office or as a mum, to experiment with digital technology and until a compelling reason comes along, like the birth of a grandchild, then they never will.

    Anyway, thank you for the mention!

    All best


  2. 2 Stuart Parker August 5, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s a really valid observation you’ve made and one that I’d never even considered. Just adding an additional perspective that hopefully doesn’t just apply to me!

    Thanks for a great read!


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