Where is the intersection of social trends and technology trends?
This was the question posed by the first Interactive panel of the morning. The consensus was that, right now, users of technology are driving social trends. The internet is the key force, and more specifically e-mail, instant messaging, blogging and personal networking sites.
An important thing to keep in mind is that this is a generational trend, specifically post-boomer generations, but particularly those under 25 years old. Slowly but surely the boomer generation, which prided itself on shaping American culture, is seeing its influence diminish.
The post-boomers are part of a larger macrotrend dealing with the perception of privacy. Through blogging and other online technology, the younger generations are much less private, and instead are very comfortable broadcasting even the most mundane aspects of their lives over the internet. This is an example of how social trends and technology feed off each other. Tools such as e-mail and social networking sites offer a “pulse check” on one’s social identity.
The internet also has provided a strong sense of community. Niche interests, through the internet, become huge online communities, with their own voices and leaders. With all of the political, social and environmental anxiety in the world today, younger generations are turning away from established authoritarian figures.
An interesting theory posed by one of the panelists is that at some point there will be a subcultural backlash against the technologically driven, very-public, personal identity prevalent in today’s younger generations. This would probably involve people who are right now not even born, or just barely, and more than likely will not be a mass rejection (much like there has never been a mass rejection of television). But it’s logical to think that given how mainstream the public persona is for the post-boomer generations, some within a future generation will want nothing to do with it.
posted by Bryan Keplesky