In a few conversations in recent days I’ve been noticing how there is often an assumptive merging of two (for me) distinct concepts – millennials and digital natives.
I see myself as a digital native. Although I can kind of remember a time without computers around me, I struggle to. I taught myself to program on a BBC Model B in my teens. Moreover I was using dial-up bulletin boards to swap files and share stories at about the same time and was involved in online communities when the Web was still a bunch of static pages. Facebook and their ilk feel familiar to me in many ways bar the mass adoption and fancy user interfaces. I was doing Internet on my phone before there was any point in doing Internet on my phone.
Being born in 1970 I’m certainly not a millennial.
But assuming that people who have been born into a world where digital technology is ubiquitous inherently understand its importance is a risky game. Whilst Gen Z and Millennials might be happily using social networks, they don’t necessarily understand the importance of having a network.
My grandparents weren’t born into a world of ubiquitous motoring. Their relationships with their cars were very different from mine with mine. Were they better drivers than me? Well their generation had little impact on that – my maternal grandfather was a reasonable driver, my abiding memory of being in a car with my paternal grandfather was the smell of burning clutch.
But did they understand the value of easy travel, and did they make more of it as a result? Possibly.
Do kids coming into the workforce today and in the next few years inherently understand the value and importance of developing and nurturing a professional network because they spend their time on SnapChat? That’s a dangerous, and quite frankly wrong, assumption.