Sociologists agree: generations are made during the so-called “formative years” between the ages of 10 and 25. Today’s children develop in two ways. Physically, but now also digitally. This is the first generation to come of age with this dual identity. What young people do online is a reflection of the uncertain and changing world in which this generation is growing up. Besides being leaders of this apparent dual life, they are the first generation to try to create a new order from this mix of realities. For them, the internet is both a meta-modernist amusement park where every reality can be created, and a place that is covered with a moral fog and where new rules of conduct arise. Generations do not get caught in a specific piece of technology. The character of a generation is never the technology itself. The education, the zeitgeist and everything they consciously experience in their youth play an important role.
Volume, value and influence
A new generation is coming to the fore. Substantial in size (32 percent of the world population), it has different values than its predecessors, and is already influential thanks to its use of influencer practices and technologies.
The synthetic generation
The task of making something of the world rests on the shoulders of every new generation. They must set their course in this rapidly changing and confusing world. Their mission and expertise are the synthesis. This is not a punk rock generation that wants to destroy things. It is a generation that introduces new values: post-materialistic, focused on self-expression and self-actualization.
The first generation of young people already has a business impact before they start their career. With their ambivalent identity they grow up as “influencers”. On TikTok or Boomoji the little ones learn to exert digital influence. They are experimenting with new forms of influencing like mukbang and ASMR. This generation pays attention to everything that is (or seems to be) authentic and real and turns away from the old world.
The synthetic future
Fake personalities on Instagram become so real that the distinction between reality and virtuality is no longer possible. Authentic images of political leaders are manipulated with synthetic media and forged into new truths. What is real and what is fake is increasingly difficult to determine.