I Wasn’t Born Digital – It Just Happened

I saw a tweet about a post on the Edelman Digital blog over the weekend, I work there hence I read our blog:-), for a post called Twitter Is For Old People. I read, absorbed, and re-tweeted – as you do:

According to Nielsen, Twitter is most popular with 35-49 year olds, with teens barely rating on the Twitter popularity scale: Twitter Doesn’t Smell Like Teen Spirit.

A reply to the tweet posed an excellent question (paraphrased): If i’m 35-49 and old, what will I be when i’m older that that?

To which I responded: The title should’ve been ‘Twitter Users Are Older Than You Think’ – thanks for hanging in there, I’ll get to my point now.

Laurent Francois then came out with the wonderful summisation @lilzeon:

@geetarchurchy do agree 100%. “you weren’t born digital, you become it !” ;)

I was born in 1985 and at the age of 15 started to get interested in this thing call the Internet, and what it could do. I’ve since made friends with it and we usually, unless Tiscali are having an off day, get on rather well. Before 2000 I’d not been on the Internet and had the chance to learn about it’s full capabilities – even in 2000 it was far more complex than we’d ever imagined, no matter how charming the whole thing seems now.

I’ve grown up with the web and it has developed from a luxury and into a necessity. So how can it solely be the preserve of the young as is often perceived?

Pretty much every PR agency will have their token digital native, you know, the eager young pup just out of University, willing to learn about how to communicate and how this whole media thing works (and I include myself in this category BTW). Now the digital native will be the one sending e-mails about the exciting stuff that’s happening with Hunch or Tumblr, and forever on Twitter.

This situation occurs as a force of nature. If nobody within a sector is innovating or talking about innovation, the sector will cease to move forward. It is often those with the big ideas, fresh into a sector, that push it’s boundaries because they can see where the flaws are.

Why else do you write something, and then ask for someone else to proof read it? Fresh eyes can see what you’ve become used to.

So why should the young maverick, the netizen, the new grad, have this put upon their shoulders? They weren’t born with a fascination of all things digital, they’ve grwon into it and adapted along the way. What makes an 21 year old able to do this, but not a 35 year old? In theory, nothing but themselves.

A 35 year old is just as capable of picking up this whole Twitter phenomenon as I am, learning from it a new way to communicate and to explore it’s possibilities.

Twitter users may indeed be primarily between 35-49. Does that make them old? No. Does it make them young? No. Does it make them open minded and allow them to bring a wealth of experience to the innovation table? Yes. (I apologise for the use of ‘them’ incidentally, all for rhetorical purposes).

If I want to innovate with a year’s experience and am willing to try and do so with the new tools available, why shouldn’t someone with ten or fifteen years experience? If you have that experience, you know what is wrong with an industry and you’ll have a better idea than I, how to fix it.

Just because you don’t think you were born digital, doesn’t mean you can’t become it, and just because you think I am digital, doesn’t mean I was born that way, I became it.


One thought on “I Wasn’t Born Digital – It Just Happened

  1. I do agree.

    and in a sense, it’s a good news: digital capital is not something you only inherit from the context in which you are, but that you can learn


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