Technology has changed significantly over the past two decades, creating a generational split between Gen Z and older generations. Even though most of the technological advances are being used by people of all ages, the way we used them is drastically different.
Radio and TV
Boomers will probably recall the days when everyone listened to the radio and watched TV as a form of entertainment. These days, all you need to get famous is a YouTube Channel or a Spotify Playlist. Pair that with a subscription with YoutubeStorm and you’re on your way to fame. In the past decades, people needed to convince a TV production company, a Record Label, or even a Studio to allow them to even try for fame.
Netflix Changes How We Consume Media
In the 90s, as there was widespread use of videotapes, and later DVDs, many stores around the world offered rental of popular movies on such media. In the US, the most popular was a chain of stores called “Blockbuster”. In 2000, while Netflix was still a young company, they offered to sell their brand and business to Blockbuster. You can probably deduce that they passed the $50 million offer, which was a big mistake.
With streaming technology, we have access to millions of movies and TV shows without the need to leave our homes and visit a video store. Indeed, we never even have to leave the living room choice (or our beds, since Netflix is available on a variety of devices). Netflix was able to popularize streaming in a way that I don’t think Gen Z has the patience to watch regular TV anymore. On TV viewers needed to work with an already proposed schedule to watch series and other TV shows, often waiting an entire week to watch the next episode (even when it’s a rerun). With streaming services, you can easily binge-watch not just one entire season but every season without being interrupted by advertisements at all. You can pause what you’re watching to open the door for a delivery man or go to sleep to continue the watching later.
Spotify and Soundcloud Change The Music Industry
While musicians in the past needed to appeal to record labels before appealing to the masses, these days they can skip the middleman. The popularization of audio streaming services (Spotify, SoundCloud, etc.) creates the opportunity for more cover artists and amateur artists to rise. Independent artists are longer standing on the sidelines waiting for their niche listeners. Instead, they are broadcasting to the world and gaining popularity (and generating profits) all on their own.
Probably, the most influential and widespread technology that is used by millions today is the smartphone. Not only do we have a telephone in our back pocket at all times, but we have access to a camera, the internet, an extensive media library (music, videos, etc), a social communication device, and so much more.
Boomers would have thought it ridiculous that you could access so much so easily. Couples in the past needed to find a payphone to reach each other, and they’d leave a note at the office or local bar, in case their partner called. These days, you could share your live location with a group of your friends. Our generation has embraced technology and the use of the smartphone so much that we are losing our right to privacy. Between your Twitter feed, your shared Spotify playlist, your Instagram followers, and much more; you are never alone in today’s digital world.
Technology has advanced fast enough to speed up the unfolding generational shift between even millennials and Gen Z. The way we are consuming media communicating in the digital age, gives us a lot of access, and very little privacy.