Originally published June 2012
Below is an exclusive excerpt from my new book, in which I share insights and extensive research conducted for me by Ipsos/OTX, explaining why today's college students may prove to be the next great generation and possibly the greatest generation of the 21st century. Hooked Up: A New Generation's Surprising Take on Sex, Politics and Saving the World will be published by York House Press later this month. The book introduces a new and previously unrecognized generation called the "Hooked Up Generation," aka "Internet Pioneers," born between 1991 and 1995 and the first generation to grow up with the Internet as an embedded part of their lives. They are a segment of the Millennials, and are the bridge between those born pre- and post-Internet, radically different groups that cannot be combined into a single generational paradigm. After two decades of technological invention, economic collapse, social upheaval, political polarization and a war on terror, this generation carries on its shoulders the responsibility to return us to a time of social balance and economic growth. The Hooked Up generation was born into disruption but is destined to lead the nation and world into a transcendental period of human tolerance and peace.
Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, comments "Internet Pioneers are not like us. They absorbed the Internet like a native language while the rest of us struggled to learn it. Any time now, these pioneers will be commanding the agenda – and we'd better understand them. Chapter 24 of Jack Myers' fascinating book is called 'The future of the world as we don't know it'. Hooked Up is the best guide to that future that I've yet come across."
Jack Myers Media Business Report subscribers can pre-order a personally autographed copy at www.jackmyers.com. The book will be launched at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity at an event hosted by Simulmedia and Vibrant Media. Book parties will be held in major cities throughout July and August hosted by Simulmedia, McCann Worldgroup, and others. Please contact me if you are interested in hosting an event.
EXCERPTED FROM JACK MYERS' NEW BOOK
Hooked Up: A New Generation's Surprising Take on Sex, Politics and Saving the World
The Future of the World As We Don't Know It
©Copyright 2012 Jack Myers. May not be reprinted in any form without written permission.
Anyone who was older than 25 in 2012 has little in common with the Internet Pioneers and Internet Natives born post-1991. While the world these post-Internet generations are inheriting is bewildering and may seem to some to be on a self-destructive downward spiral, my understanding of this new generation has given me a renewed and even optimistic outlook on the future.
But no matter how well we may understand the Internet Pioneers and Internet Natives, and no matter how much research we might do to learn more about them, we can only uncover and try to relate to the earliest stages of their evolution and future effects and influences. Internet Pioneers are a transformative generation — bridging the gap between the "me" generations of the past several decades that have polarized almost all aspects of society and the "well balanced" generations that are emerging from the Internet culture.
In my 1998 book Reconnecting with Customers: Building Brands and Profits in The Relationship Age, I wrote about the "Net-Generation," for whom I coined the term "N-Gen," calling them the "Engine" of the 21st century. I wrote then, and continue to believe, that "this generation is the most important generation in history — the most technologically savvy, educated, and economically powerful. This is a culturally diverse group to whom tolerance is not only important, it is natural. For the past several years, the number of immigrants entering the United States each year has surpassed the number of births, and this will continue for the next several years. Multiculturalism is far more apparent on MTV and Nickelodeon than it is on CBS."
I continued, "The N-Generation has far more influence over purchase decisions than preceding generations. It is the first generation that believes that its members are in control of technology, rather than technology controlling them. They do not sit passively in front of their television set. They interact. The long sought-after 'killer app' is turning out to be the powerful N-Gen who perceive technology with a completely new set of perceptions, expectations, needs and issues."
Looking back at my 1998 book in the context of writing this book, the two are a continuum, with a single core message: All the Internet-inspired inventions to date have been a precursor to the coming advances the Internet is inspiring and the extraordinary impact these advances will have on all aspects of culture and society.
The first wave of the "N-Gen" — the Internet Pioneers — are at the earliest stages of making their influence felt. They are an impressive group, and they will be up to the task of fulfilling their destiny to be the single most important generation of the past or next hundred years, even though they are the smallest — only 21.2 million. When I began researching this group, I was concerned about whom I would discover. Would they prove to be a generation born into a society that elevates and honors false gods like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton; that has a shortened attention span brought on by a non-stop explosion of information, entertainment and constant social intrusion; a generation that seems to have little regard for traditional hierarchies or cultural mores? Would this generation have the chops to lead, inspire and guide society, or would they prove to be just a purposeless cohort group in the passing parade of humanity?
Of course, not all Internet Pioneers can be generalized with broad descriptions. They have more diversity than any generation of college-age youth that has preceded them — a larger percentage of them are Hispanic, Black and Asian. There are more Muslims among them. There are more openly gay 17- to 21-year-olds than ever before. They are at the front edge of a wave of diversity descending on America. Fifty-nine percent of college students in 2012 are female, and that disproportionate share will increase for at least the next decade, with the percent of graduate students even more weighted toward females. The effect of greater diversity in the general population and the population moving into their adult years will be game-changing — altering the culture and the strategic foundations of corporations, politics, education, the arts, media, advertising and almost every career category.
Internet Pioneers are the most aware generation ever, and they are committed to moving their lives forward, becoming productive adults and contributing in meaningful ways to society and to their communities — whether those communities be in their neighborhoods or online and global. But they remain weighted down with the baggage of generations before them who have led the nation to the brink of economic, political and social bankruptcy. Their first task will be to shed that baggage and refocus their energy on more positive and productive pursuits.
They are focused on their futures and welcome the prospect (eventual) of marriage and families. But they are unschooled in the basic foundations of one-to-one human relationships and have become overly dependent on technology to manage relationships in ways older generations truly cannot fathom.
We have no way of knowing how this new reality will be manifested and how relationships will evolve. From corporate human resource managers to educators to therapists to dating site executives, the relationship implications for Internet Natives need to be studied, interpreted and understood. But even then, the ability of those who grew up as part of pre-Internet generations will be of limited value in relating to and addressing the needs of Internet Natives and the problems and issues they are facing. It will be a mistake to try to anticipate the future problems of Internet Pioneers and Internet Natives or the solutions to these problems. Our traditional approaches, perceptions, beliefs and experiences are very different from theirs.
Pre-Internet generations — X-Gens and Y-Gens — will remain the most visible and powerful influences in society for at least the next two decades. But, inevitably and sadly, there will also be more disclosures about illegal, immoral and unethical actions of these generations, as well as conflicts, controversy and polarization that will further disconnect them from Internet Pioneers.
From Henry Kissinger's secret trip on Air Force One to China in 1970 to the election of Barack Obama, the world has been on a roller coaster ride of change and disruption. Internet Pioneers are at the forefront of a movement that will set a new stabilizing course for humanity, but it will take decades before their true influence and importance will be fully recognized and understood. My goal with this book has been to share insights on the transformational effect on society resulting from the development of the Internet and the period of literally and virtually mind-altering advances that interconnectivity will lead to over the next few decades. My study of Internet Pioneers — the small generation of today's college students born between 1991 and 1995 — provides a unique perspective on these coming advances and shifts in society, culture and all aspects of human interaction.