Thursday, November 20, 2014

The App Generation

I just had an interesting conversation with a colleague from another department.

Through this conversation, I uttered the phrase: "they're the app generation." His reply: "I think you just coined a phrase."

Well, while I realize I didn't actually coin this phrase (there's already a book out with that phrase as the title), this conversation did make me think about what this means.

So, what is the App Generation? We are so busy calling the current age of people the Millennial Generation, but how long will that phrase last? Is it more apropos to call them the App Generation? Is it fair to label only the Millennials the App Generation or does this label fit to many more people than that?

We're so tied to our mobile devices and the latest app and what it can do for us, to us, with us. We're so tethered to the electronic leashes and those little icons that connect us to various things.

Apps rule our lives. They help us connect to content, friends, media, images, food, and even places to go. They provide our news, our images, our livelihood, our money, our families, our life. Apps are our life.

Apps are so personal. They speak volumes about who you are, where you've been, where you plan to go, how you plan to get there, and how long it'll take.

Apps keep us occupied while we're getting there. Help us stay on course during the route. Help us find the food and toilets during the trip. Help us light the way in the dark--literally and figuratively.

Apps provide the info to keep us informed, entertained, communicative.

Apps tell us what's hot and new.  Apps suggest to us what may be hot and new in the future. Apps remind us of what used to be hot and new.

Apps are our culture. They are our innovation, our brainchildren, our way forward. Apps are our futures.

Apps are us.

Every company that wants to be relevant today must develop an app.  Years ago, what used to be a suite of programs (iWork and Office come to mind) is now a series of unconnected apps that you can (or must) buy individually.  What used to take up one icon, now takes up three.

But what does this all mean?

Does this mean we are too connected, too electronic device-ified?

Apps help bridge the miles between friends, family, and lovers. Apps keep military men and women connected to the family who so desperately just want to see them again. Apps offer a sense of stability but also a sense of spontaneity. They offer freedom but they also bring so many restrictions. Apps are your cache private photos but they are also your willful destruction of personal privacy.

All of that data fed into those apps says a lot of who you are. And all of it is given away freely.

Apps are helping us.

Apps are ruining us.

Years ago, I used to use two videos in my classes: "Did you know? Shift Happens" and "The Machine is Us/ing Us."  These videos have become even more relevant now than then.
                                           "Did you know?Shift Happens, 2014 Remix"

"Web 2.0: The Machine is Us/ing Us."

We have become our phones, our tablets, our laptops. We have become the apps. We are extensions of our mobiles devices and connectivity rather than the devices being extensions of us. We can no longer say it's this generation or that generation--sectioning off the generations according to when we were all born. Sure, we all belong to a pre-determined generation based on the year we were born, but we are all also a part of the App Generation. We exist in this App Generation because of the advancements in tech during our life times.

We also can't say it's one country or another. The world uses mobile devices. There are more mobile devices in this world than there are toilets:

And what does THAT say about who and what we are as humans? In our priorities as humans? We are the App Generation.

Do we have to remain a part of the App Generation? Is it a lasting label that can't be shed?

No. We can choose to ignore the apps and mobile devices for a time. Put them away for awhile. Silence them. Turn them off. Silence the notifications. Come back to them later.

The truth is, without your attention, the apps will continue to function; they'll exist in their space whether you acknowledge them or not. But will the real, tangible, breathing beings who are in your life continue to exist in your life if you ignore them for awhile?

Can we continue to ignore one another for the sake of the apps and devices? What will that society look like? Do I even want to know?

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