The Digital Divide? Not So Much.

Not too long ago, I heard a lot of people say things like “I just don’t get Twitter. Why would anyone want to know what I had for breakfast? I’ll never use it.” My typical response was “If you don't believe anyoneno wants to know, then why would you post that?”  Today, many of these same people are now checking their Twitter feeds for news and other interesting topics they like to follow. They initially couldn’t perceive Twitter’s use because it fell outside their sphere of experience, but eventually discovered how it was useful -for them. 

That’s what I believe Jon Bird has accomplished in his article “The Digital Divide” in The New Retail blog. He described how he couldn’t imagine using a large virtual mirror in a store in the way two teenage girls were using it - trying on clothes and sharing their look with friends and getting their feedback. In other words, he was ascribing the use and motivations of teenage girls to himself, a self-described “older male” who couldn’t be bothered to use technology to “find out what my bestie things of the pants I buy.”  Well, of course not. I don’t think he would use the telephone, a letter or any other means of communication to do that. But guess what? He will find how it is useful - for him.  

As I read this story (and I too am an older male - probably older than Jon) I saw tremendous potential for my generation. My spouse is the arbiter of taste in our household - when I’m out buying a new suit, I would love her opinion on shirts, ties or the fit. She’s really good at that, and I’m not (no matter how hard I try!). When selecting a new pair of glasses, I recently sent my youngest daughter (21) a pic of them on me to get the “would I be seen in public with you wearing those glasses” test. Several pics and texts later, we had a winner.  It will be excellent to have a quick video chat with her on a  smaller version of this (although mobile phones are quickly offering this capability).

My point is, don’t judge something based on other people’s motivations because that has nothing to do with you. And while generational differences are an initial hurdle, I quickly see us “older folks” implementing their use in our day-to-day lives. You know, not too long ago, people were saying texting would always be a younger person thing. Not so much.