Unpacking Coded Culture
Technological innovation has been around for centuries. It has allowed for the creation of tools that make our lives easier – from the creation of dams and aquafers to the smartphone you carry in your back pocket. Each innovation, each simplification of our lives, changes the course of human culture. It changes how we see ourselves and our values.
With the rapid rate of innovation, it’s become much easier to see the effects of technological culture change. Just think about the Millennial and Baby Boomer divide. The contention between the two generations is not necessarily unusual, but the depth of the divide speaks wonders to how impactful a changing environment is to a generation’s belief system.
Baby Boomers grew up in a time of stark divisiveness. Where other generations were brought together by events like the World Wars, the Great Depression or the expansion of global communications, Baby Boomers were separated by the Vietnam War, civil rights movement, women’s liberation movement and sexual revolution.
Millennials, on the other hand, seem to be connected not only to one another, but to the world as a whole. The expansion of global communications and the introduction of social media has created in them a sense of empathy and connectedness unlike any other generation to date. Like Baby Boomers, Millennials are experiencing a period of division with the renewed civil rights movement – Black Lives Matter – and a renewed feminist movement. Where Boomers were more likely to separate themselves, Millennials take ownership of these movements with social media.
Recent technological advancement has made communication the most obvious cultural change between the two generations. In social settings Baby Boomers communicated either face to face or using landline telephones. They inherently learned how to pick up on non-verbal cues and the art of chit chat. Their communication was something they devoted time to, whether in person or over the phone.
Millennials, though, grew up with multiple forms of communication: email, IM, texting, calling, video chat and social media to name a few. They spend less time on a single conversation, instead preferring quick messages that can be responded to on their own terms. They have mastered succinct communication, but they have difficulty with non-verbal cues.
There are many cultural differences that create an immense chasm between Boomers and Millennials – some from technological change, some from political challenges and others from economic crises. What is clear is that as technology continues to influence the way we interact with one another and the world, there will be increasing cultural disparities between current and future generations that must be breached.