Somethings just put a smile on my face, but somethings bring tear of laughter to my eyes, now wait you might think I’m an arsehole when I describe what happened.
The teenager didn’t have a clue what was coming. Everyone behind him did as they grinned. Each step he moved closer and closer to his fate. But He just kept texting. And walking. Until, Three… Two… One…Smack! He walked right into a pole. He was the latest victim of “text walking.”
Sometimes I’m close enough to get their attention, this time, I was too far away, but I was unable to hold back the laughter, like a gush. I felt a little embarrassed for the guy, but only a little.
His generation is currently the fastest growing generation known as the igen. Born after 1995, they are more than a little different from the generation that came before them and very different from my generation known as Xgen.
Easily identifiable by the umbilical smartphone, generally with earphones or one earphone in an ear. Their generation have emerging purchasing power and are so social media savvy it’s not uncommon to find one or more with up to 3000 friends on Facebook in a city of barely 100,000 people.
If you want to know what they offer let’s look at what my kid’s generation has grown up with
· eBay with free shipping
· Downloadable iPhone, android apps with built in monetized levels
· Downloadable tv shows and movies
· Gaming systems with 3D and Hi-res graphics more real than the pixelated blocks we played on Tetris
· Cameras are included in everything
· YouTube and Instagram channels are the norm
· The most important is not in the library (Facebook)
· Interest rates under 10% and even under 5%
But it hasn’t been all good. The economy has been the best. Although unemployment figures are half that of the early 1990’s the Government changed the definitions and the number of under-employed or those on subsistence employment is higher than the depression.
They’ve seen their parents struggling and they are looking for stability but are focussed almost entirely on what loyalty the company will show them. If you don’t communicate with them or let them feel significant they will jump ship.
They have spent more time looking at screens than every generation before them combined and survive in a world with 20,000 times the distraction (no not an exaggeration). Their relationship with technology is open and transparent. They live in a world with no privacy or the civil liberties of their parents and if you judge them for behaviour, they will redirect the issue to their inability to grow up without surveillance.
They are more authentic, if they are feeling down they will put a frown emoji on their post. If you don’t get the visual signals, you’re the ignorant one.
They are diverse, rather than integrate into the norm, they seek uniqueness to promote significance, they are turned off by marketers who try to pigeon hole them. Their diversity is viewed, as an achievement, not incongruency.
The great thing is that if you want to know what igen wants, just ask them, they give their opinion freely. Give them the chance to voice their opinion, be it good or bad and they will be vocal.
I asked the teenager what could be done to stop kids walking into poles. He said they should create an app with sensors on your phone to give you a proximity alert when the poles are in your way.