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Hello Future: Generation Edge & Technology

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It's time to rethink the digital native.

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Hello Future: Generation Edge & Technology

  1. 1. HELLO FUTURE Generation Edge & Technology The Sound
  2. 2. THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE “WE’RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE” - Dorothy, probably 01
  3. 3. THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE IT’S TIME TO RETHINK THE
 SO-CALLED DIGITAL NATIVE Troll farms, hack attacks, bitcoin ransoms, and ruthless algorithmic efficiency. The economic certainty of automation and the existential threat of AI. And of course the molten-hot flames of a social media dumpster fire that will surely consume us all. Ugh. Since we first started exploring the world of Generation Edge in 2012, it’s safe to say our collective relationship with technology has grown slightly panicky. Nowhere is this panic more evident than when it comes to how we perceive technology’s role in the lives of young people. Once a story of endless hype, their overuse of gadgets is now a source of mass anxiety. With some pundits going so far as to say that smartphones have already “destroyed” an entire generation. Double ugh. 02
  4. 4. There is nothing new about an old-fashioned techno- panic. For example: In the 19th century, the preeminent social critics of the day assumed that the “volatile matter” of a new low-cost wood-pulp paper would create “volatile minds”. Spoiler alert: It didn’t. Every successive generation seems to view its experience with new technology as a critical juncture for the human race. And when a younger generation grows up with even newer technology, the older generations project their worst fears onto them. This bias obscures what makes the Generation Edge experience truly unique. And the focus on the negative, while important and valuable, ends up concealing the remarkable. THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE SHIFT YOUR PERSPECTIVE… 03
  5. 5. Generation Edge is the most fundamentally different cohort since the Industrial Revolution. They are the first generation to have grown up with their memories pooled together in the cloud and the first generation to instinctively swipe a screen. Everyone gets this by now. But the critical difference between those born before 1995 and after is that they don’t think about technology like you think about technology. So stop thinking like you, and start thinking like them if you want to understand what’s happening and what’s going to happen. For how wildly original, paradoxical and even otherworldly this generation is, they are too often reduced to a narrow and critical view of their behaviour rather than understood through their lived experience. THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE MILLENNIAL (has post-Internet brain) GENERATION EDGE (has pre-Internet brain) 1980 - 1995 1995 - 2010 …AND THE STORY CHANGES 04
  6. 6. THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE Gen Edge has grown up in a climate of socio-political chaos and escalating threat. This is mirrored by their experience with technology, where disruption is the only norm they’ve ever known. They are not the marketer’s ideal of “early adopters” but instead have been forced to constantly adapt. For Gen Edge, the idea of “mobile-first” is less a question of preference than the natural evolution of how personal relationships should work in the 21st century. Their lives exist in a state of 24/7 collaboration, and this continual connection to their social circle allows them to work out their thoughts, feelings and conflicts with others in real-time, all the time. DISCERNING Gen Edge has been targeted by push and pull content since grade-school and has too much choice and is too media savvy to be forced to engage with content they don’t want to engage with. This is often explained away as an inability to concentrate, but is actually proof of their increased agency. DISTRACTED ALWAYS ON MOBILE-FIRST ADAPTIVE ADOPTERS 05
  7. 7. Young people between the ages of 5 and 15 in the UK now spend an average of 3 hours per day online, making “online” and everything it entails their number one pastime. While in the US, teens now spend 9hrs per day in front of some form of screen. Smartphones = Adolescence More important than getting your driver’s licence in terms of the freedom afforded, getting your first smartphone now symbolizes the beginning of adolescence. And adolescence is starting earlier every year. The average age for a first phone is now 10.3 in the US, down from 12 in 2010. Some call it instant prioritization, or a rapid fire filter bubble, but their well-publicized 8-second attention span is even simpler than that: They’ve been inundated with advertising since birth and will avoid it at all costs unless it means something to them. 8 SECONDS3 HOURS10 YEARS - Influence Central, 2016 - Ofcom, 2016 THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE Online is everything 06 They don’t have time for bullshit
  8. 8. 8 Unparalleled interconnectedness is what makes my 
 generation unique. We are so fortunate to have the ability to learn so much about one another and to collaborate across countries. I think growing up in this generation has allowed for really open, critical conversations about the building blocks of our society. Being raised on the Internet, I think we're more aware and empathetic merely because of our access to knowledge about other people across the world. Kelsey Adams, 20, Journalist, Toronto THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE 07
  9. 9. GEN EDGE THE WORLD EDUCATION GENDER SURVIVA L C O M M UNITY IDENTITY CONFLICT C REATIVITY EXPERIM ENTS THEWORLD For previous generations, technology was introduced in segments: A phone for voice communication. A television for entertainment. A computer for word processing. Technology extended the senses, but on a sense-by-sense basis. The Gen Edge experience is closer to synesthesia than segmentation; blending together to create an unbroken membrane between themselves and the world. Technology isn’t just a piece of hardware or software – it’s a means of survival, a source of conflict, a mental health remedy, an education hack, an expression of gender dynamics and platform for experimentation. All of it is tied to identity and much if it contains an element of entertainment. It’s an all-purpose toolbox that allows them to navigate and negotiate the world they live in. A world that isn’t just physical but emotional and social. Technology is whatever exists between them and the world THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE 08
  10. 10. The struggle is realer than you think. Food, shelter, warmth, power, mobility. We all have these needs and they are becoming increasingly intertwined with our devices. While young people are often ridiculed for their fear of disconnection, not being able to connect with your social network or use the tools you’ve come to depend on presents a real threat to them, both practically and emotionally. It’s a threat that can be navigated – but a threat nonetheless. 25% said that when they are offline they feel nervous or anxious. 59% 59% of young people (16-24s) said they’d feel lost if they could not access the Internet compared to just 47% of adults. - Ofcom, 2016 25% SURVIVAL THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE 09
  11. 11. The bulk of their real-world drama has been pushed online. Social media and other communication platforms have become the primary arena for the conflict they experience. Image-based platforms in particular can be a breeding ground for internal distress such as the “me VS my social media self” phenomenon. But while these platforms create real problems, they can also provide the solution to the same problems, acting as both toxin and antidote. The #halfthestory campaign and website was created by 22-year- old Larissa May to encourage young people to talk about virtual authenticity and the pressures to perform for social media. It provides a space for teens to open up about the other half of their lives that they don’t share online. 60% Between 2010 and 2016, the number of adolescents in the US who experienced at least one major depressive episode leapt by 60%. Many have attributed smartphone use to this spike. # CONFLICT THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE 10 - US Department of Health, 2017
  12. 12. Edgers are more self-reliant and practical than Millennials, and nowhere is this difference more striking than in their approach to education. Growing up with Google means that that they’ve developed an innately active approach to learning. Questions never have to go unanswered, and all possible curiosities are explored. As such, Edgers grow up constantly self-educating themselves on anything that they find mildly interesting. This DIY ethic spills out into everything they do. Everyday activities like cooking, using software and putting on make-up have been systematically broken down into highly popular youtube tutorials. This is night-school for teens, available on any topic, anywhere, for free. The School of Doodle website provides a non- linear and revolutionary platform for education targeted at teenage girls with the aim to foster their creativity and encourage them to be loud. THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE EDUCATION 11
  13. 13. CREATION Ambitious Edgers are building mini-empires by flipping coveted brands like Supreme and Vetements on Depop: a youth-centric auction site that balances creativity with commerce. More than any other app, teens today are distinguished by their love for music.ly, an addictive lip-syncing app that perfectly blends performance with community. They are self-taught creative polyglots. They grew up immersed in the tools of cultural production, and they have begun to seize them. Where Millennial subcultures were easily co-opted by brands and advertisers, Edgers have far more marketing savvy, are more independent and even more entrepreneurial. They understand that data has become inseparable from creativity and monetization is always within reach. THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE CREATIVITY 12
  14. 14. EXPERIMENTAL Whereas Millennials used social media for self- expression, Gen Edgers see it as a laboratory for identity formation. Having grown up accustomed to rapidly shifting circumstances - social, digital, political and economical, they’ve become natural born hackers eager to carve out their own spaces within broader systems. They’re constructing their identity in one massive open-world experiment, but have also witnessed the mistakes of their older Millennial siblings and Gen X parents and have taken notice. Edgers are fluid and adaptable, and will expect brands to use technology that reflects this – apps and interfaces that learn from their behaviour to create authentically personalized experiences. Snapchat has normalized augmented reality and helped push Edgers towards an appreciation of the surreal. They like weird and respect brands that are able to pull it off. THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE EXPERIMENTS 13
  15. 15. COMMUNITY At its best, “Online” is a magical place where they’ve met their closest friends, had a long line of “firsts” and deepened their existing relationships. 78%* of social media-using teenagers in the US said it makes them feel closer to their friends and 40% said it makes them feel closer to their family. They don’t see a separation between digital and physical, but rather, it’s part of an unbroken continuum. 32% In the UK, youth between the ages of 16 and 24 spend the largest part of their media time communicating (32%). In contrast, adults spend only 19% of their media time doing so. - Ofcom, 2016 Released in early 2016, Houseparty has grown to have over 20 million users, 60% of whom are under the age of 24. The video chat app was able to connect with Edgers due to its ability to recreate real-world social dynamics. THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE 14 *AP, 2016
  16. 16. GENDER Edgers have a remarkably advanced understanding of gender dynamics, issues and politics. They are far less interested in gender binaries, with only 48%* identifying as exclusively heterosexual, compared to 65% percent of Millennials. As such, they understand the gender imbalance behind the media they consume, the software they use and the videogames they play, and are beginning to push back. Obsessee is a social media-only media brand dedicated to girls and women between the ages of 14 to 22. The brand, which lives exclusively on Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and the like, has an all Gen Edge editorial board and tags itself as a “a content destination for cool young girls”. Qamcare, a free analog of GPS- Watches, won Google’s Technovation challenge this year. It was designed by three teen girls from Kazakhstan who had a problem in mind that they wanted to solve: feeling unsafe while walking home alone after dark. THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE GENDER 15 *JWT, 2016
  17. 17. The best thing about being young today is that we’re living in a weird post post-post-modern apocalypse where most institutions are crumbling and almost every opinion is moot, and the only answer is to trust yourself and mix everything up. Tavi Gevinson, Editor-in-Chief of Rookie Mag, 21, Chicago THE SOUND 16
  18. 18. THE SOUND SOUND ADVICE 17
  19. 19. Their relationship with Youtube often impacts their relationship with everything else.
 They are captivated by Youtube celebrities because of their authenticity, openness and relate-ability. And they look to the platform not just for entertainment or cultural discovery, but for anything from education, news, music or meditative ASMR videos. Creators and the act of creation is at the heart of the Gen Edge cultural experience. They value the perspectives of these creators much more than traditional taste-makers like television, print or movie personalities. Part of their appreciation for creators comes from their level of cultural sophistication – the Internet has allowed them to explore and discover extremely niche interests. They still value the role of TV, it’s just that they’ve repurposed it. While the word “TV” can mean anything from VOD apps, to watching clips online or binging on Netflix, the traditional mode of broadcast television (to an actual television set) still plays a pivotal role in their life, especially when it comes to live events. On an emotional level, they see it as a bonding mechanism between them and their family and a comforting “live” presence. RETHINK TELEVISION YOUTUBE IS THE NUCLEUS EMBRACE THE POWER OF CREATORS THE SOUND 18
  20. 20. They take less drugs and drink less alcohol, but are regulating their mood with targeted doses of abstract media blips and they prefer their politics to be supremely meme-able. While older generations wrestle with the idea of whether or not emojis are a distinct language, Gen Edgers just speak it, and fluently. LEARN TO SPEAK VISUALLY They’re an eclectic generation open to new and different things, and tend not to conform to norms when they have an option. Because they have grown used to valuing alternative information sources, they are more likely to trust the advice of friends or even strangers rather than authority figures, organizations, or brands on social media. An “influencer” can mean anyone they get their information from, and they often pull from a variety of sources, some established, others obscure and personal. JOIN THE MESH OF INFLUENCE They grew up in an over-saturated brand landscape and have adapted accordingly. They don’t like being sold to, but they appreciate brands that are as fluid as they are. Brands that get in the way are a problem, brands that can fit into the spaces they create, are not. They’ve also come to value a sense of privacy and safety, and appreciate brands that help rather than hinder on this front or can add a sense of security to their lives. INTEGRATE DON’T DOMINATE THE SOUND HELLO FUTURE 19
  21. 21. WANT TO GET TO KNOW GENERATION EDGE? We’re obsessed with discovering how young people are going to change the world in the very near future. Give us a call and let’s talk. THE SOUND 20
  22. 22. V A N C O U V E R | N E W Y O R K | L O N D O N | T O R O N T O | C H I C A G O | M U M B A I W W W . T H E S O U N D H Q . C O M V A N C O U V E R | N E W Y O R K | L O N D O N | T O R O N T O | C H I C A G O | M U M B A I W W W . T H E S O U N D H Q . C O M
  23. 23. SLIDE SITE 2 https://singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/black-mirror.jpg 3 https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/ 6 https://static1.squarespace.com/static/544a9357e4b0e537e01f1381/54ab0aaae4b0f4be675d3e91/54ab0d3ce4b04f595705437b/1420496361842/tumblr_lx5766ZNm81r9uwqao1_1280.jpg? format=1000w 7 http://www.ravishly.com/sites/default/files/ThinkstockPhotos-462831055.jpg 10 https://www.highsnobiety.com/2017/09/14/tom-galle-corporate-logo-weapons/ 11 https://inhabitat.com/greek-teen-becomes-the-youngest-person-to-build-a-life-size-functional-3d-robot/ 12 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/02/kim-gordon-school-of-doodle-sonic-youth-feminist 14 http://i.huffpost.com/gadgets/slideshows/415846/slide_415846_5281720_free.jpg 17 https://www.highsnobiety.com/2017/09/14/tom-galle-corporate-logo-weapons/ 20 http://pitchzine.com/BARNEY-BAKER 21 http://cinevenger.com/?p=412 IMAGE REFERENCES

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