Am I a digital native?

Instagram_HeaderI started to move my blog after long thoughts on all the channels I’m using or not using. And this made me think about various things. Especially if I’m a digital native. I’m generation Y, born in the early eighties. I’m supposed to have grown up with the internet and to be a big user of social media (and I am). This makes me a digital native, it said.


I thought about this. When I was a child means of communication other than face-to-face where telephone, fax and of course letters. I loved communicating with others. My parents probably still remember the days (and bills) when I called my best friends, who I had just seen in school, as soon as I came home. And I could talk for hours… I also had several pen pals and even if letters to another country took days or even a week to be delivered we stayed in contact.

When I was about 13 years old we got internet access and for the first time I could send emails. Most of my friends’ parents got internet around the same time so I had people to send emails to. It was like having pen pals only faster. The funny thing about emailing was having a family email accounts. My father managed to get one with his first name, his two middle name initials and our surname (He thought he had to be pretty clear with the naming). We also got a CD with Encarta on it, so for the first time I could check facts not in a book but on the computer. But finding information online was still far away.


During my last high school years it got to that. I was lucky to have an English teacher who liked making his students write free texts on chosen topics (not always common for a foreign language teacher, at least not in Germany). This was 1999/2000. Online publishing wasn’t the most natural thing to do. But my class joined a project on the internet for young consumers where we would write articles on different topics. And we slowly realised that the internet was a source for information and contact to people further away.

After school I spend a year as au pair in Spain. The need to sometimes talk to people in my language, other than the few that I knew there, opened the gates to use chatrooms. For the first time real timing “talk” via internet was an option for me. But soon I went from talking to strangers to chatting to friends first on icq and later on skype

facebookAnd when I was in my third year in university something new turned up: social media. In Germany we had the network studivz, but I soon turned to facebook like many others too. And hey, staying in contact is now so easy and sometimes I even wonder how I managed back than without facebook and the like. After starting my blog I even set up a facebook page for it. By the way: come and follow me. I would be happy to see you there!

Nowadays I use my blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. And this really got me thinking: I am an online marketeer. I know how important consistent content is. And yet my content isn’t (at least my layout is though). This is for different reasons: my interests are diverse. When it comes to things I share online these would be knitting, nail polish, traveling and social media management. Now these things actually don’t go together smoothly, I think. There might be other people out there that are interested in all of these topics but most are only interested in a few of them. I get the feeling to get more followers or readers I would have to split my blog at least in half or use the social media channel’s for different stuff. Currently Instagram is mainly for nails, twitter mainly for social media, Facebook a place to share mostly things handicraft, pinterest, as the name suggest, mainly for myself to pin things so I don’t forget what nice things I’ve seen and my blog a melting pot for everything.

instagramSo, even if I feel like not having grown up with, I have certainly grown into using the internet for every little thing. But I don’t feel like a digital native. It feels rather like I’m an expat who came into the land of Internet at an early age and embraced its culture. Not born a digital native but nearly one.

For me a real digital native is still someone born in the late eighties, early nineties (or later) who never had to use books to find information because there was already search machines and never had to write letters, because e-mails and text message where so much quicker. Someone for whom no other means of communication can compete against the internet and social media.

Would you count yourself as a digital native?


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