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The Great Migration

Today, while reading yet another piece of ‘news’ on LinkedIn, it occurred to me – the great debate themes in the digital do not always reflect our everyday problems. We, millennials and younger, have started a migration from the real (analog?) to the digital world and are slowly getting there.

Here’s to the great migration to the digital and why it is relevant to our lives.

Like any great migration, it has a trigger, a process, and a finality. But I want to talk a bit about the intermezzo. The intermezzos, actually. Plural.

We, millennials, have lived, are, and will still be living for a little while longer in both the analog and digital worlds. Think of shopping: we are both doing it online as well as at the local supermarket. Think of friends: we have or Facebook cliques as well as our ‘real’ three-dimensional people.

The younger ones, gen Z and whatever other letters, like our 9-year-old daughter, she tends to be more digital than analog. She can already type pretty fast, interacts with her friends a lot via devices, and even draws on the iPad.

I am not going to get into the positives or negatives of such behaviors. It’s more and more clear to me that this is the direction in which humanity is headed whether I think this is a positive thing or not. It’s pretty much like with a language mistake that’s being repeated over and over until it becomes a norm. Even though I’d argue that the three-dimensional world is a lot cooler and has many things to teach us/her, I will be proven ‘wrong’ by millions of others who will think it’s ok to live a digital life.

So let’s put that aside and address another problem.

In all my online lurks and observations, I noticed that this digital world tends to be sensitive to a whole other type of stimuli. So much so that sometimes it even creates an artificial problem only to have something to solve.

The digital world is full of opinionated people.

Some rightfully so, but in most of cases not so much. Sure, here personality is incredibly important in conveying a message; Some, more seasoned opinions might lose ground because they come from less versed mouths, from less intrusive or vocal personalities. But it’s not even about that. It’s about the fact that everyone with a keyboard at hand and a WiFi connection almost feels obliged to share their thoughts.

There is nothing wrong with sharing thoughts …

… If they are worth sharing.

What does that mean? Well, it means that …

  • There is something substantiating your thoughts of opinions. Meaning something that qualifies you to have them.
  • They bring value to the conversation. Some other side people have missed or maybe a way to enlighten someone.
  • They make a difference. If opinions change a course of action, that’s the best you can hope for.
So where does the tornado of shared opinions sit in the great migration to the digital?

Well, pretty much at its core.

Luckily, we, the older millennials, can compare the two worlds – real and digital. That helps us construct a full picture of facts. The younger ones are not that lucky. Because of an intimate relationship they have with the digital, they grow up thinking it’s the single source of truth. Here’s where it gets tricky. In a storm of opinions and shared thoughts recognizing the reference points is very complicated. And that is where the problem of the great migration lies.

In the absence of proper guidance, preteens and teens of today will have a hard time distinguishing concepts. As with any great migration, some of them will be crushed by countless completely worthless opinions, expressed in a very suppressing way.

What to do about it?

To be honest, I am not sure. I know this has been recognized as a problem by other, more open minds, but I only really truly recognized it. So I don’t know what can be done. Intuition tells me that education is crucial.