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低头组, iGen

A ‘friendly’ prose about the internet generation
 

Young people are going to suffer neck pains sooner than they think.
Let’s also talk about their thumbs. When in the history of humankind have thumbs been exercised with such fervour?
 

The occasional over shoulder peeks should inform you of their activities. What’s on their screens:

Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp… something that makes them swipe their fingers left or right, and of course, there is Google… and what else, videos! Videos playing on ridiculously small screens. Last but certainly not the least... their face. Their face and their friends’ faces.

We are living in such a strange time. What will count as progress if our future leaders have their necks bent down all the time?
 

To answer these questions, we suit up in our imaginary detective trench coats and roblox fedoras to investigate the iGen. Here are top 3 trends we uncovered:

#1 Why are they smiling at phones?

Everyone has seen it. Youngsters dressed preppy and stylish as they sit in a corner and smile sheepishly at their phones, needless to say, on some sort of social media platform. But could they actually be getting something meaningful and real out of all that?

Let’s consider the fact that they are smiling; A muscle behaviour coded by feelings of joy.

One can guess that socialising online decreases loneliness. Online communication even opens doors for those who do not know how to start a conversation. It helps those who are socially anxious to connect with people of similar interests, who otherwise may choose to be alone. However, too much usage can lead to crippling dependence, where security is felt only when they are hiding behind their screens.

Unfortunately, people don’t like to admit that they are lonely, even though it is a common and human experience. It is an experience that is felt from early to silver years.

To conclude trend #1, we realise that everyone needs to connect in some way. No matter how “okay” you think you are with being alone, we are all innately wired to want to connect in some way. For the iGen, it is through social media, or texting, where views and experiences are exchanged whenever they want.

#2 What kind of friends do they make online?

If they are online so often, what do they do and who do they meet when they go out? Let’s point our attention to the iGen’s going out habits. If they spend so much time on the screen, what kind of friends are they making online? We read the news and it seems like the internet is crawling with bad guys.

Fortunately, most mature youths talk to friends made at school or work. Used wisely, they even use the internet to pursue their unripe passions.

Nurturing one's passion proves to be easier through online communities. Say, if I am just starting out at gardening, I would be inclined to find experienced gardeners who can share tips and even collaborate on a community garden project together!

Hopefully, our iGen are talking to peers who guide their online persona towards stable and meaningful offline communities.

#3 They seem to know (almost) everything

Don’t they seem to know everything these days? We wonder if internet inventors, Robert E. Kahn and Vint Cerf, had imagined that one day, anyone could have 24/7 access to knowledge about the world at their fingertips.

It took much longer in the past to master everyday shenanigans such as:


How to go to an unfamiliar location the fastest way possible, how to make the best tom yum goong, which number to call when something at home gets faulty, the latest updates about politics and which restaurant serves the best food.

The other thing about Google is its ability to give us information in a split second. With this, internet users are sinking into the habit of skim reading. Skim reading is, as you can guess, quickly reading just to gain a general idea of the text. Its negative effects? Falling prey to false information. For example, reading just the headline or only the first two paragraphs of an article without noting its sources can equip readers with information that is inaccurate or dangerously out of context.

We wrap up trend #2 with an understanding that “with great power comes great responsibility”. Pun intended. What we mean to say is, everyone has a choice of the type and extent of knowledge they want to build. Google is a great tool for self-directed learning. However, we need to be careful about falling into bad habits.

 

To sum up our findings, we won’t be too quick to cluck our tongues at the internet generation. In favour or not, they have fast-tracked their way into a world of knowledge and convenience. They are now able to reduce the counts of trials and errors to enable progress, for themselves, and with bated breath we say... for the country.

As for the pioneer generation, learning technology can seem like an insurmountable task at first, especially if they don’t know where to start. We reckon that being aware of their needs and the benefits that they intend to take away from technology will make them more comfortable about having a digital presence.

The Future Ready Life (FRL) programme is basic technology course which is designed to enable tech savvy seniors. Through knowledge about tech usage and practical applications, we hope to help seniors stay relevant and connected in a tech-driven world.

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