We’re constantly hearing about the “net generation”, digital natives and web-savvy teenagers. There’s wistfulness and a touch of envy as we talk about young people’s ability to deal competently with all sorts of techno-gadgets, and to move with apparent ease between online and offline worlds.

Real digital pioneers

The under 30s, we’re told, take to digital like ducks to water, free of the inhibitions and hangups their parents, grandparents and older siblings might have. They are born with digital technology in their DNA while we, the older generation, are doomed to sit awkwardly on the sidelines. The young, it’s implied, represent funky, state-of-the-art new builds while we’re the dated Victorian terrace house – charming, perhaps, but decidedly quaint, and in need of some serious retro-fitting.

First taste

But Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have something no other generations can have. We sit on the cusp. We remember what it was like to communicate without mobile phones, to carry out research without the internet and to sustain friendships without social networks. Like Elizabethan courtiers experiencing their first taste of sugar, we are able to truly appreciate the miracle we have at our fingertips.

On Computer Weekly’s blog, Suw Charman-Anderson warns businesses against the perils of focusing too much on the younger generation while “ignor[ing] the vast pool of older tech-literate people who have grown up with the technology and who understand it in their bones.”

I agree – the older generations have something special: we’re digital pioneers. No-one can ever take that from us. And we continue to forge new frontiers every day.

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Photo credit: Richard Leonard

Jemima Gibbons

Social media consultant and author of Monkeys with Typewriters (featured by BBC Radio 5 and the London Evening Standard). Get your social marketing up and running with my Social Media Launch Pack!

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