Avatar.

24 Dec

“The Homeland Gen is here!” Swear it’s true. My first thought at the final moment of seeing the movie Avatar tonight was just that: The Homeland Gen is here. See, each generation finds its way with communication technologies and shapes/molds/forms/s informed by them. And the virtual world, mark my word, is the tech of the Homeland gen.

The Silent Gen (the people 67-85 in 2009) this year are the newspaper gen. They like their credential experts. They like to trust the voice of the person who is clearly trustable by virtue of their position.

Boomers (the people 49-66 in 2009), well, they like their TV. Messages. Big messages with big meanings. Ads. Drama. Story. Ruthless control of media and moral (or immoral) messages.

GenXers (the people 28-48 in 2009), they like the internet. That’s their turf that they transformed from a communication tool for sharing ideas (the World Wide Web) into a money-making machine and integral part of businesses large and small. Fast. Accessible. Chaotic and wild.

Millennials (the people 7ish-27 in 2009), they like their handheld devices. Mobile phones. iPods. Carry the tech with them. Instant. Connected to friends, peers, their generation. Able to listen, connect, communicate in an instant with their peers. As they ascend more into young adulthood and, eventually, midlife, expect to be blown away by what is possible with handheld devices (and, equally, how old-school computers get).

Homeland Gen (the little kids on the block, currently babes to about 6 or 7 in 2009), the prediction my BFF and I have: virtual world is their technology. That’s their thing, sez us. Homeland gen is the same archetype as the Silent Gen that is now dying out. A smaller generation in total number. A gen that will grow up similar, in some ways, to “Depression Era babies,” where adults were no-nonsense and hyper-over-crazy-ass-protective of their OWN kids and their tribe. Their parents are have to face a dark and difficult outer world requiring their attention to ensure survival of the family/tribe/country.

So, why virtual technology? Well, the Homeland gen won’t be traipsing off much for trips to distant lands, nor Disney Land as a matter of fact, the way the prior gen was. They won’t be “special” the way the prior gen was, and doted on for every act they take, large or small. (Loved, yes. But, “special,” no.) And they won’t be drenched in the riches of their parents’/society’s wealth because … well, it mostly spent/squandered in prior generations.

But the Homeland gen WILL be (assuming, that is, all goes according to the cycle that just keeps ticking on) a generation of children who are “expected to be obedient, to stay out of harm’s way and let adults do important work.” (Strauss & Howe) And inside of that paradigm of childhood, watch for the profound impact of the virtual world on their existence: how they are shaped by it and how they shape it with their needs.

So, back to Avatar — which I am soooo happy I saw in a movie theater as opposed to some chopped up version on TV with lots of commercials: Avatar is about, on one level, being able to move through technology into another world that — in the end — becomes more real than “real life.” This movie is a cultural marker announcing on a deep level that the Homeland gen is moving out of pre-K and into its first years in Kindergarden or first grade. That’s my guess. It’s hard when a generation is newly arrived to speak to its start date (nor is it my job or right to do so). It takes other experiences and world-forming events to begin to shape it.

The economy aside — not that it’s not important, it’s just that it’s like “yeah, yeah, ok so Society’s Winter is upon us; duh, can we get on to the problem-solving part of things now?” — anyway, I heard a week or so ago a governor of some state speaking in a radio interview. He was talking about less money being spent on education per kid than in the past two decades. Duh. That was the Millennial gen that got more-more-more, regardless of how irresponsible adults were being about spending inside a clearly unsustainable system. It’s Millennials who get government money regardless of their phase of life. It follows them. They’re a Hero gen and they smile a lot and make older people feel happy and that the world does look bright again.

But I must say, that when I heard this governor speak of declining education funds per child I knew this was ONLY possible with a Homeland/artist gen ascending into the school systems. This just wouldn’t happen with Millennials as the only generation in school. I find this stuff fascinating. Generational cycles are like clockwork. Amazing stuff, this human drama.

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