Fourteen (i)

Rachel was staying with me that following weekend. And it was only then for some reason that social media really hit me hard. Perhaps, given everything going on at work, I was just in the mindset to question all my assumptions. Perhaps now that Rachel and I no longer lived under the same roof seven days a week I paid closer attention during the time we did have together.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m computer-savvy. I bought a laptop when a 100MB hard disk drive was considered massive (for younger readers, that’s not a typo). I unpacked it listening to Wu-Tang Clan on my new personal CD player feeling very ‘with it’.

The Fugees’ The Score was my soundtrack as I got on email and began to browse the nascent World Wide Web with Netscape Navigator. Upgrading from a 28.8 to 56 kbit/sec modem felt liberating! The day I got my first Motorola, I phoned Dom from an Eminem concert, tapping his number in from memory.

Now, plugged into my iPod or Android phone, I’m at ease checking in with family, friends, colleagues and professional peers online.

So I’ll be honest with you, in keeping abreast of the social media revolution in the press, by attending social media conferences and by getting myself on every social network going, I had assumed I ‘got’ social media.

These days, Muse, Nicki Minaj and Adele fight for attention alongside Led Zeppelin, Marc Cohn, Johnny Cash, Charles Mingus and Albinoni. The past gets hooks in you. Yet it’s perhaps not too simplistic to say that the younger generation lives entirely in the moment. To Rachel, the Web has always existed. Computers have always been connected. Adults have always had mobile phones and they’ve always been smart – the phones that is, not adults – and she got her first one for her 13th. Music has always been mp3. TV has always been on-demand. She has a completely fresh perspective.

“Dad, email doesn’t work very well does it?”

Now what do you say to that?

That weekend I watched Rachel gliding from laptop to desktop, from desktop to mobile, from mobile to tablet. From text to image to video to games to voice. From interacting one-to-one, and interacting amongst many. From leading the conversation, to observing more passively. From homework collaboration to sharing fashion finds, from DJing music amongst her friends to planning a sleepover, from comedic videos to hanging out in multi-player games. And her expectations of the experience are so high and so ingrained that the only comment she made in this respect was to tell me Mom had just got ‘Smart TV’. Her inference was not lost on me.

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