Most marketeers and salespeople want to have a handle on the demographic mix of customers. We have created a pigeon-holed society where products are aimed at specific markets. We also talk about embracing diversity and putting acronyms/names against certain sectors of society, LGBT, for example or ‘Millennials’.
These descriptions are our way of rationalising behaviour in our relationships.
We have had Baby boomers, generation X, Y and Z. the latest incarnation appears to be generation Alpha, People who were born after 2010 with an IPad in hand and experiencing a remarkable rate of technological progress. These are the consumers of the future which again, Marketeers are getting to grips with through their parents.
This generation will have a digital footprint first designed by their parents through various Facebook likes and photographs, eventually posting their own rebellious content which will prove hard to eradicate, despite calls for the right to be forgotten.
Generational labelling is also spreading, China and India have both had a baby boomer generation but they are fast approaching Generation Alpha overload as population growth exceeds that of the west.
This also risks erosion of eastern philosophy, balance with nature and family values caused by digital behaviour.
This is even influencing what we wear because the Alpha baby will be using wearable technology and experience more virtual reality than previous generations.
All in All, each generation is becoming more digitalised and tech savvy
This raises two points
Firstly- Pigeon holing.
If you are going to negatively describe each generation as Arrogant, selfish, impatient, profligate etc, then don’t be surprised that they will behave in that manner because a) they think that is the norm and b) you will be looking through a biased lens for signs of that behaviour
We are in danger of losing the human touch and spending too much time in virtual and digital reality, again, normalising spending time on Twitter as acceptable, whilst not learning how to use a knife and fork or other social skills. Prolonged social media use is damaging, merely because it is taken to excess, but bringing children up with IPads and letting them explore the world through a small screen is not showing alternate views of life, experiencing sunsets, snow or walks in the forest. As will all experiences, moderation is the key. Research has shown that social media messes with your head.
It gives unnecessary oxygen of publicity to bad stories and then passive anxiety and creeping paranoia about the world gets to epidemic levels. Social media is mood enhancing and leads to dark places which groom and bully the unprepared. This also means that the digital time spent sitting on the internet is taking away time spent on physical activity., again not experiencing the good feelings about exercise and endorphins. Nothing new here, but the older generation of Baby Boomers who are now grandparents were brought up on post war austerity, didn’t educate themselves through broadband and actually formed many clubs and societies where they could interact in real reality.
We also have a mood to embrace diversity, yet the internet is polarising opinion and leading to feelings of inadequacy as we see ‘Perfect lives’ enacted on Facebook.
Our grandmothers would advise us that moderation is everything and even ancient Greek Philosophers talk about the Golden Mean, yet whilst we have extremes of opinion and poor-quality dialogue on social media, the notion of moderation gets diluted, or the golden mean gets shifted through weight of numbers, ‘likes’ , decibel levels or 140 characters.
So, to go back to my opening paragraph, this is why vested interests have a vested interest in sustaining the internet. It is a powerful tool for selling, extracting value from the uninformed. And influencing behaviour/opinion.
Like newspapers before it, social media is not a completely reliable source. The issue is if we are bringing up children weaned on the internet and all its faults, where is the next generation of grandparents who can advise, cajole or befriend grandchildren and restate the Golden mean back into the middle moderate ground. We can pigeon hole all we like for Marketing purposes and vested interests may have a particular algorithm or bot to hijack agendas, but the question remains how do we keep the voice of moderation active enough to counter all the noise and not pigeon hole people because the internet says so.