This is Madeline. She is 3 years old and is part of the Digital generation. She is growing up during a recession that is likely to linger through most of her formative years. If the experts are right, her generation will carry the burden of whatever economic remedies we finally decide on for our national debt problems. I don’t want to be the one to tell her.
We met as she was getting her first pedicure, one of life’s small pleasures. Her life will be filled with many small pleasures, lots of them digital. The chances are good that all of her music, her photos, and most of her books will be digital. She will probably never worry about a hard drive crashing. Her digital life being stored in the “cloud.”
Madeline is the norm for her generation. She is diverse like the majority of her peers. I suspect she will be one of the fortunate ones who will get a good education although a great deal of it may not be in a traditional classroom. In fact, as a graduating member of the class of 1926, she may never set foot on campus.
As she grows up, Madeline will be puzzled by stories her parents tell of using paper maps, soap in the form of bars, physical trips to be seen by doctors, leaving the house everyday to go to work, and light bulbs that burnt out. She may sense the sadness of some family members who lost their homes in the mortgage crisis, had extended periods of unemployment, or grandparents who continue to work into their 70’s before Social Security kicks in.
I suspect that Madeline will thrive because this is the life she knows. We are all products of the time in which we grow up. Tom McBride and Ron Nief do a wonderful job of pointing this out in their new The Mindset Lists of American History: From Typewriters to Text Messages, What Ten Generations of Americans Think Is Normal. It is worth every penny … an expression that may make no sense to Madeline.