Old Methods, New Tools: The Generational Technology Gap and What It Means

The rise in social media and related Internet technologies has created a gap between the pre-Internet generations and the tech-savvy youth that have utilized the Internet or computer technology since their early years. While pre-Internet generations have certainly adapted to using the Internet, there is no denying the differing perceptions these groups share in regard to the Web and the plethora of technologies that utilize network connections. For instance, some studies have found that the those who grew up using the Internet read or scan websites entirely different than those who did not; older generations read a website similar to a magazine or a book — left to right, while younger generations have adapted to quickly scanning a website for important or relevant information. This is a minor characteristic but consider its implication. Our society relies on and utilizes heavily social media and the Internet subsequently, meaning that younger generations that have adapted to using the Internet due so with efficiency and instinct. Combine this difference with the multitudes of others and it creates an atmosphere where the generations that govern our society and its regulatory agencies fail to effectively utilize computer networks and emerging technology.

The rate at which computers and related technologies advance is astounding. Each year processing power doubles and the methods and resources to create new chip ensures the proliferation of cheap computers and devices. This also creates a gap between occupations that use or benefit from the use of computers and networks from those who have failed to adapt. A prime example would be the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, which has received some recent news exposure due to her attempted suicide and death. Parsons was a Canadian teenager who was allegedly raped and harassed. After a police inquiry and school investigation yielded no arrests or results, Parsons withdrew further from the community until she attempted suicide and subsequently died in the hospital. Following her death, the Internet collective known as Anonymous took an interest in her case and attempted to track down her assailants. Within one week from Parson’s death (April 7th) Anonymous released several statements through their Twitter account that indicated that they had discovered the identities of four suspects responsible for the act and the dissemination of the pictures of said act. Anonymous is expected to cooperate with the police department, who have already reopened the investigation.

Anonymous’s actions highlight the issue with the growing gap between investigative, regulatory methods and emerging, advancing technologies. Anonymous discerned the identities of the suspects with such ease compared to the local police department and even threatened to reveal the suspects to the public if the police did not take action. While in this instance Anonymous’s investigative techniques highlighted the benefits of utilizing the Internet as a primary investigative tool, this case also hinted at the failure of current foundations of society to adapt to our ever-advancing world.

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