MySpace and the net have encouraged teens to make a great deal of their once private information public. "I just broke up with my girlfriend and it hurts. "I'm going to be at the Toubab Krewe show. Who wants to buy me a drink?." "I moved to Topeka and it sucks".
Ethan Kaplan, who in real life is the Director of Technology at Warner Brothers Records, has written about this phenomenon on his own personal and yet public blog BlackRimGlasses. Kaplan dubs this generation who has embraced MySpace and the public sharing of private details "The Survey Generation" and takes a serious look the underlying reasons for the trend.
"The Survey Generation is designated by a population of people who in the absence of control of the data they produce, have decided to take back control and make the data subjugate to themselves. We all know that as we live, we produce data dandruff, flaky bits of binary that spread themselves out from data-exchange points. Buying a plane ticket, super-market club cards, NSA back rooms, ISP records, IP addresses, etc, etc. I move through the world physically, leaving a long trail of data behind me with wreck-less abandon."
"This generation of people is aware of this, even subconsciously. They haven’t known a world outside of surveillance and the universal panoptic...Instead of shying away from this form of data collection, intrusion and objectification, they have taken it back."
"Surveys, memes, quizzes and tests...".
It is tempting to argue that this trend began in the open society of the '60's through the decades that followed filled with self-help, self-realization and group therapy; and that the internet simply provided the digital town square that accelerated it. That all is true, but taken alone it would discount the numbing effect that the digitization of our personal information along with a post 911 perceived need to mine that data has had on young people who have come of age knowing only this reality.
For marketers, MySpace, the net, and this generation's desire to share and know the intimate details and preferences of relative strangers holds both great promise (a leveling of the playing field, space for niche's to grow, the long tail) and some room for abuse (false or corrupt gatekeepers, marketing overload, ever-shorter attention spans).
Read Ethan Kaplan's full post here. Next in our MySpace Series: Advertising