It's 2010 and we are living in the future of the past.
Pop culture taught us that by the year 2000 everyone was supposed to be walking around in silver jumpsuits with antennas stuck to their heads. Overhead, people would be flying their cars to work on the air highway and at home, robots in aprons would be doing the housework.
Well, we're now a decade into the 21st Century and there are still no flying cars and no robot housekeepers, so what is there to define the new generation of millennium kids?
There are many terms used to describe the current generation of teens and kids born from 1991 to 2001 (Generation Z, The Internet Generation, Digital Natives, etc.), but none of them give us a clear sense of what this generation is really about.
As the first generation to grow up with the internet and all the new technology and awareness stemming from its expanse, it's hard to confine Generation Z to a couple of words or a catchphrase.
So how can you tell if you truly fit the description of a Digital Native? Well time-travelers, I'm here to paint a picture for you. Here are a couple ways to tell a true Digital Native from a knock-off:
You use instant messaging abbreviations when you talk
If you've ever found yourself saying "BRB" to a friend before going to the bathroom or "LOL" when someone says something funny (but not funny enough to actually laugh out loud), you definitely fit the description of Digital Native.
"OMG my BFF was ROFL'ing the other day and she LOL'd so hard, she had to go home. IDK if she'll BRB soon, she's pretty mortified."
You have at least one strictly "online" friend
Digital Natives know at least one person who they talk to frequently on the Internet but have never spent time with, or even had a conversation with in real life. Chances are, they also have no intention of ever having a face to face conversation with this person. He or she is simply an online friend, a digital buddy whose friendship is confined to the world behind the computer screen.
You share a bed with your cell phone
Many people recognize that sleep is important for living a healthy life. But Generation Z realizes that sleep is for those with no social life. The party doesn't stop just because it's time to catch some zzz's and many digital socialites opt for sleeping with their cellular companions next to their pillows in case something important comes up, like a surprise toga party or a sudden text from the loves of their lives.
You can text in extreme conditions
It's 3 a.m. and your phone has just alerted you of a new text message. Your best friend's boyfriend has just broken up with her and she needs you to comfort her. You reach for your phone, but (gasp!) your right arm has fallen asleep. Suddenly a giant earthquake shakes your entire house. Books are being knocked off shelves and dust and debris are clouding the air, making it hard for you to breath. But your friend needs you!
This situation is no problem for a digital age junkie. Digital-agers have learned to text at lightning fast speeds no matter what the conditions. Only when you can text during a massive earthquake, with your eyes closed, deafening noise in the background, and one hand tied behind your back while reciting Walt Whitman can you truly call yourself a Digital Native.
You can't find your way out of a box without a GPS
You can easily spot Generation Z on the road because they are the ones in their cars with confused looks on their faces, listening to an electronic voice shout directions at them. The invention of the GPS opened many doors for the Digital Generation. Now people can travel without the bulk of carrying a map and without the constraints of printing out directions from MapQuest. Digital Natives have become so dependent on their Garmins and Magellans that occasionally you'll see one navigating by GPS while walking down the street. Some hardcore Digital Natives even use their GPS in their own home town. At least they'll never be lonely on a long road trip.
You're on a first-name basis with Wikipedia
A true Digital Native is convinced that good ol' "Wiki" knows the answer to all of life's questions. From Ponzi Schemes to Paris Hilton, Wiki has helped us out on numerous occasions. Whether we need to verify information to win a bet with a friend, find sources for a research paper for school, or simply learn more about our favorite band, Wiki is there with the answers. Want to know what worldly events happened on your birthday? Need to catch up with the French Revolution? Want to know where Quentin Tarantino was born? Simple, just Wiki it.
There are many people who disapprove of the superficiality of the Internet Generation and the inevitable disconnection from reality that comes with the introduction of new technology.
But the truth is, like it or not, technology has become part of the culture of the future, and part of the language of Generation Z.
We may not have flying cars and talking robots yet, but our generation has carved its own identity from the foundation the future has provided.
Check out the attached videos of San Ramon Digital Natives' views on life in the future!