I find what and how different generations adopt communication technology to be most fascinating. I am strongly of the belief that Twitter is a tool attractive mostly to GenXers (born 1961-1981). And here’s why: GenXers (the Nomad archetype, via Strauss & Howe’s brilliant work on generations) grow up behind a culturally dominant and turf-squatting gen (today’s Boomers). As such, there is little-to-no space in the public sphere for GenX to find their footing, except, of course, as support to Boomers (born 1943-1960). This is particularly true for GenX in young adulthood, which has now shifted as GenX are moving into midlife.
So, Twitter, as a tool, is microblogging. Right? It’s small bits. Gaps. Niches. Finding a very small space that requires no specific authority-granted position from which to speak. Finding a small space to insert a comment, a bit of information, a link to some potentially helpful info. Finding a small space from which to broadcast, engage, connect.
Twitter has GenX written all over it. Which is why, for example, Oprah was so clumsy, off-putting and stale-stale-stale as she hosted her ooooh-look-at-me-tweet show.
Millennials (the correct term, academically), but *sigh* as many call them, GenY, aren’t typically oriented to Twitter, why? They are a peer-oriented, collective can-do generation. They expect high levels of attention — particularly institutional attention — on them. Twitter requires a lot of work without any guaranteed payoff and reward for attention. Millennials grew up in and orient toward a mentality that has more to do with this: Here Are the Steps to Take. Now, Here is your Reward. Twitter is a wilder world with many an unknown. Much more the environment in which GenXers thrive.
Millennials, as they mature and take the reigns as they eventually move into midlife, will bring balance to GenXers’ fragmented approach to problem-solving. They are oriented more to group-think and the collective heart-space they share in their peer groups. And they, in turn, will have their excesses of hubris balanced by the gen that follows them. Just as this correction of excesses is balanced always by the next-junior generation.
So, that’s my bit about Twitter, GenX and GenY.
BTW, always think *handheld devices* when looking to find where/how/when to connect with Millennials. There’s a trick for reaching each gen, and it’s understanding their orientation to information. Silent Gen = newspaper and credentialed souces. Boomer = TV and radio and big messages. Gen X = internet and fragmented, personable connections. Millennial/Gen Y = handheld/mobile devices; always connected to each other.