The Future of the Digital Natives

To: Heritage Foundation, Department of Free Market Sociology
Date: March 12, 2080
Proposal for White Paper on the Digital Native Problem

"Digital Natives," the generation born between 1993 and 2013, present a continuing social problem. Much has been written about this group recently as they are beginning to seriously tax voluntary resources for the elderly. Like the so-called "baby boomers" of an earlier era, their early sense of entitlement and privilege makes them uncooperative and noisy senior citizens.

Other papers have discussed the possible consequences of shutting down the dwindling cyber-network that is their social lifeline, the so-called "Public Internet." My research topic proposes investigating the roots of this self-identified caste, to better understand their mindset and frame of reference.

It is hard for us to conceive now the heady sense of sharing and ease of obtaining information in the days when the Public Internet reached almost every home and mobile device. Children who grew up in this environment were told that theirs was a new way of thinking and that they had special insight into information processing and use of search tools within this vast living archive.

By the early 2010s, however, special services introduced by WorldGoogle (then called simply Google) and other telecommunications giants arrived on the scene. Elite children born after 2013 only knew these services (games, libraries, education facilities) and use of the existing infrastructure (what is now called the Public Internet) massively declined. Digital Natives resisted these services and continued to be "jacked in" to the old P.I.

Now, of course, the P.I. is a quaint shell of social media utilities with links to a few thousand volunteer-run "websites," but the D.N.s still use it as their primary source of communication with the rest of the world. They are truly like a "hive mind," the old nightmare of collectivism, which makes them a stubborn social force even if they have no real political power. How to repurpose them for Special Services is not my topic; rather it is understanding their thinking, perhaps with an eye to disentangling them from the hive.

[Remainder of abstract omitted]