Really interesting video of Tor Myrhen, the President and Chieft Creative Officer of Grey New York using the tale of how he lost his virginity at age 14 to compare the user experience of the process between 1986 and 2011.
It’s a good reminder of how technology may change, but at their core people don’t, and how although the core desires and motivations remain identical, the ways in which we communicate and connect do lead to different interactions and outcomes. But where it goes further for me is in the repercussions of those changes and how they may have an effect on the way our core desires now manifest themselves
Desire in the connected age:
I’m not much younger than Myrhen, so most of the references are pretty familiar, particularly skateboarding. I actually have a VHS cassette that a friend put together of a group of us hanging out and attempting to skate from around 20 years ago, and I wonder whether I’d have let myself be filmed if I thought anyone outside of the five of us would ever see it? I’d still want to be an awesome skater, and I’d still suck, so would I dare go near a board if I thought it would end up on Facebook and Youtube in minutes?
Given the public nature of connections, would I have pursued the same girls, or had the same serendipitous moments of mutual interest? And would my friends have been using technology to screw them up more effectively than they managed in real life?
And when some of those teen romances inevitably ended, what implications does it have when it’s announced publicly on social networks, with an almost micro-celebrity level of PR regarding who was dumped, whose story gets out first, and who gets blamed?
As Myhren says, all of the data that got shared on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and indexed by Google, is essentially around for eternity, or at least as long as those companies are with us, so flashing forward 20 years in my own life, what effects does that have on me now? In my 30s in 1986 it would have taken a lot of effort to track down past friends and girlfriends if I was feeling nostalgic, compared to a quick search on Google and some social networks – I’m in regular contact with three of my best friends that I met living in the U.S despite being terrible at keeping in touch before the broadband revolution really took off in the UK, for example.
Out of curiousity, after seeing this, I did a quick check to see how many ex-girlfriends I could track down with barely any effort, and without revealing my personal quantitative data, I managed about 70% success in about an hour. Does that change what happens with regards to nostalgia and ‘ending’ relationships which can be so easily resumed? Does it mean that although the desire for a quick romance still exists for many people, the reality is that it’s always easy for one party to at least attempt to resume it online, whether or not that leads to problems?
After all, the rules and guidelines of society, whether legal, religious, or community generated have all come about to enable humans to combine their core desires with the need to live, work and exist together in a fairly mutually acceptable way. So given that those rules and guideliness are changing at a faster pace than ever due to the speed of technological change, are we going to cope with the new rules and guidelines, and what does that mean for our kids? We can talk about digital natives seeing the internet and mobile as natural parts of their lives, but our kids and grandkids will still have the same core desires that we’ve had for centuries. The difference will be how they reconcile them with the world around them, both digital and physical.