What the heck does YOLO mean? – The Generation Gap of Digitalisation

Do you know this situation? You are talking to someone who’s older than you – not just 3 or 4 years, I’m talking about 20-30 years or even more. Sympathy is there from the beginning and you immediately know the other person is a nice one.

But something is missing. Something that keeps you both from becoming friends. It’s like there’s a wall between the two of you – and it consists of language and topics.

The Digital Wall

There have always been barriers between people of different generations concerning language and interests. If you think about it in a different way, this could be a really positive sign: humanity is developing new topics to talk about, new inventions and new ways of living.

The big difference between Generation Y and their parents’ generation clearly lies in digitalisation. Our world has been turning pretty fast in the last 20, maybe even 30 years. First, there was a computer with punch cards which was only usable for big companies. It was so error-prone that a bug crawling in there could cause a disaster (yeah, that’s why errors are called bugs nowadays). Then there was a personal computer everybody could afford and now we work on improving a technology of glasses which let us dive into a completely different reality.

Reasons for rejection

What I had to find out the semi-hard way is that those people who reject new inventions not only always make fun of technology because they just don’t like it. It’s also their way of dealing with a big fear. If you want so, this fear is the exponential rise of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). With all the different stuff invented they just don’t know where to begin with learning.

But why did they really start rejecting new technological inventions? I guess it was not a conscious decision. The computer just wasn’t always such a big thing as it is now. As you can see, even famous, intelligent people (including Bill Gates) made pretty wrong predictions about digital growth. There was simply no personal need or use for some technological inventions. Some people were interested in the beginning, some got into digitalisation over the years and some of them just woke up too late when everything was already pretty complicated. In the end, sadly it’s easier to complain about new things than to confront yourself with them.

For some of those people who refused digital inventions in their early ages not understanding how to handle those technologies now goes hand in hand with the fear of losing their jobs because they are not able to learn how to use a computer or other machines which are ironically meant to simplify their work day. Others are in fear of losing connection to society or even to their own descendants because they just don’t share the same interests or problems anymore.

Why I’m writing this is because I hear so few people talking about it even though this is a problem which is growing for pretty logical reasons. The world is not planning to pause in order to give us a chance to catch up again.



Will our generation face the same problems?

I think there is no final answer to this question. The difference between us and our parents’ generation is that we have more chance to choose our own destiny in the ongoing age of digitalisation. Most of us grew up with computers and learned the basics of how to use them. While for our parents’ generation there was a chance of just missing the big trend, for us there was no realistic chance to refuse basic knowledge about computers. So I think in Generation Y there will be a few people deboarding from the digital world with its constantly new innovations – but maybe they are happier, because it is their own consciously made decision. But maybe I’m wrong and we will all end up ranting about the rude children with their flying hoverboards – would be funny, wouldn’t it? Maybe in the end it’s just a natural progress, a repetition of history as it happened when electricity was invented or the age of industrialization began.

How to close the Generation Gap

It’s our responsibility, the responsibility of Generation Y, to give our parents’ generation a helping hand and free their way from obstacles by teaching them all the basics they need in a pace they can cope with.

Let’s tear the walls down and explain them all the stuff they are afraid of because they just don’t know how to use it. Give them a reason why a tablet could be a useful gadget – and if it’s only for watching cat videos (I swear, this totally worked well in a case where I helped). Each journey begins with the first step.

While the lesson of this post sounds pretty simple, I think it’s something we need to remember sometimes. Technology may be fascinating for us in the fast and fancy way it’s developing. Let’s not forget about the people who raised us. If there’s only one person who starts helping somebody who’s desperately looking for their “deleted internet” in the next days, I reach all of my goals with this post.

Photo credit: Cover image by Pixabay

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