Digital Happiness 3 The synthetic generation
Sociologists agree: generations are made during the so-called “formative years”. This takes place between the ages of 10 and 25. Events have an extra impact: the frontal cortex is still in full development, the nucleus accumbens, the stimulus centre, has life in its grip.
Today’s children develop in two ways during those formative years. Physically, comparable to previous generations, 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 metamodernist 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. Like a sponge, they suck everything up and this forms the so-called “Grundintentionen” (basic intentions), to use the words of Karl Mannheim, the founder of generation thinking.