The Real Generation Gap

Many authors and commentators have been talking about the notion of generations in terms of age cohorts – baby boomers, generation X, generation Y, etc. For example, Mark McCrindle is a well known Australian researcher who has written extensively on this topic.

But I am not convinced that analysing people simply on the basis of their date of birth is particularly relevant. Logic indicates that within each age cohort is a bell curve that can describe the members in terms of all the psychographic and other analytical approaches that we’ve used in marketing for generations. Thus each age cohort will have its share of early adopters or laggards with regards to change and new product adoption.

In both my work and personal life I am seeing the development of a different kind of generation gap, and it is not one that is age based. Rather it is about the individual’s relationship to technology and their willingness or desire to become and to remain connected.

This phenomenon is what I tend to call the true digital divide. There is a continuum of connectedness. Where we see some people, from any of the age cohorts, who are embracing hyperconnectivity, and who feel strange when disconnected from the hive mind of their extended social networks. And we also see others who do not even want to use email or a mobile phone. Then there are people at any stage between these two extremes.

Thus we are seeing people who love being connected via their mobile phones and social networks like Twitter or Facebook from all age groups. We are also seeing young people rejecting technology. It’s not all about age, it’s about your relationship to technology, to privacy and openness, and to connections.

The real generation gap is not about age any more!

For more info check out Mark McCrindle’s report (opens pdf)

4 thoughts on “The Real Generation Gap

  1. jen

    I am a 57 year old married female.
    l love my computer social networking world.I have friends, young and old. Friends from all parts of the world.I use Facebook, My Space, Twitter.I have two mobile phones.I have used internet cafes and internet access type places when travelling.

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  2. This is a nicely understandable demographic split, but apart from defining a target market for marketing activity, what does it actually imply from a social or societal point of view? And what is the trend: is the gap widening? Is hyperconnectivity a predictor for other things?

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  3. Pingback: Learner Bytes » Blog Archive » defining the digital divide by connection rather than age

  4. AndrewJ – thanks for your comment & questions. I see hyperconnectivity as changing some people’s fundamental ideas about technology & human relationships to it. The gap between those who are and are not hyperconnected will cotinue to widen.

    Hyperconnectivity also indicates a shift in personal relations between people. Because of it degrees of separation are being crashed from many to few. It is also creating many loose ties between members of networks and this leads to changes in their expectations of each other and of the world.

    Keep an eye out as I’m still thinking about this whole are and will be posting more in the topic.

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