Millennials may not be as tech savvy as you think.
Two weeks ago, while attending my younger brother's undergraduate commencement activities, I had a chance to interview him and six friends (all in their early 20s) about Web 2.0 tools.
"Isn't Twitter the greatest?!" I exclaimed.
Met with blank stares, I realized they required some explanation. "You know, it's like being able to text to a bunch of people all at once. One guy even used it to get out of jail in Egypt." They weren't moved by my enthusiasm.
"Okay, so what about Second Life? Surely, you all have avatars."
Again, they looked at me as if I had arrived from another dimension. "It's a virtual world that you and others create," I explained. "It's like living in a video game that is being updated continuously."
By now, I realized that this crowd was not easy to impress. In fact, their response to Second Life was not amazement, but angst. They wondered why someone would want to engage in another existence when real life posed enough problems.
Undeterred, I gave one last example: "Do you have profiles on LinkedIn? I mean, now that you are graduating and looking for jobs, it's a no brainer that you're taking advantage of this tremendous networking tool."
Strike 3. Not one of them had heard of LinkedIn, much less sought to expand their online Rolodex. Good thing I didn't use the word Rolodex either.
This encounter with one group of Millennials further reinforced my conviction that we need to be careful about categorizing an entire generation. It also adds to the idea that the newest generation is much more diverse than it predecessors due, in part, to the rapid changes brought about by the Web.