Americans like to give names to generations. We call those who lived through World War II, the “Greatest Generation;” those who came of age reading the beatnik poets of the 1950s, the “Beat Generation;” those for whom the reckless investors in the 1970s were role models, the “Me Generation;” and those who grew up disaffected and cynical at the end of the 20th Century, “Generation X.”
But we can’t seem to agree on a name for the millions of people today - young people, especially - who are flooding the Internet with their own stories, music, films and art.
A survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 44 percent of Internet users are generating creative content and posting it on the web. The survey found that it would be only a slight exaggeration in some cases to say that young people spend most of their free, waking hours on the Internet or using hand-held devices, blogging, texting or posting their original work.
Some people call these do-it-yourselfers “Generation C,” for the creative content they post. Or C for “citizen media,” meaning they’re average people sharing their observations with the world. Another name some have given them is “Generation E” for “entitled,” because these folks feel they have just as much right as established writers or musicians or filmmakers to be heard.
There are programming packages that enable musicians, including those with scant musical backgrounds, to make pretty good tunes in cyberspace. Others help average people create and edit films, which is work that used to require the costly skills of experts. Critically acclaimed films have been completed on budgets as low as $218!
Donnie Deutsch, who hosts a cable-TV show featuring creative Internet wizards, says Generation C or E is not an age group. It’s a mindset.
“This is the first generation that’s saying, ‘You know what? We count,’ that ‘my opinion is as good as anyone else’s, and my ability to create music is as good as any musician’s,’” he says. “It’s kind of a crazy, brave new world.”
In short, readily accessible and easy-to-use technology is giving a voice to what “Generation E” may really stand for: everyday people.