Citizenship by Digita1ization
In a globalized world where borders do not have the same significance they used to have, there has arisen a new form of migration:
Sounds strange? That’s what I thought, but check for yourself:
When you were a kid, you played with wooden toys (maybe plastic) and there were only two channels on TV? You went outside to play with your friends and ripped your pants instead of fighting them on Tekken?
But then time changed and so did you, didn’t you?
Today, you use computer shortcuts beyond strg+c to navigate around your computer faster. You prefer reading on a screen over printing material off the web? You ask people to scan documents for you, so you don’t lose them? Welcome, you’ve successfully completed the process of “Digital Immigration”
You don’t think there is such a thing as digital immigration? Go look it up on Wikipedia. But beware: If you trust that source, you’re in the process for sure!
The Story of a Digita1 Immigrant
When my parents got their first computer, I believe I was about 12 and I didn’t really like the thing very much. Mostly because I couldn’t find the letters on the keyboard and the screen gave me a bad headache. I had a short love affair with the machine during my teenage hood. It subsided and eventually died.
When did I begin digital immigration? I don’t know. It might have been when I bought my first laptop after graduation. Or was it the “Digital Journalism” course I took in Seattle that introduced me to Social Media? I guess it was somewhere in between. Probably a long story.
But I should have realized I’m a citizen when my editor-in-chief at the Rhein-Zeitung advised me to continue working at the “intersection of old and new media” before internship was over. Or when I argued with a Journalist friend about why I don’t need so much ink anymore. But today, just a minute ago, it clicked:
The Moment of Clarity
I started freelance work at the online office (was I blind?) of a TV station today. Naturally, on your first day you try to impress your superiors, but what impressed my boss struck me as slightly strange!
He had me create a file – with a word containing special characters. Those are usually not handled well in the online world, so I wrote it out (UE instead of Ü). He smiled: “That’s how you can tell people with web affinity”. He kept watching me and a couple of minutes later I was startled by a small shriek of his: “Ha, he uses Alt+Tab. Finally someone I don’t have to explain this to!”. It all seemed pretty natural to me.
A slightly confused smile came over my face: It was a mixed feeling of pride paired with being visciously unmasked as a g33k 😉
Now the hipster term for nerds with this kind of behavior has recently been “Digital Natives“. But I never really felt like it applies to me. Confused and lost on my search for my digital identity, I went to the “book of books” of the web – Wikipedia- and in a sidenote I found myself:
A digital native is a person for whom digital technologies already existed when they were born, and hence has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3s. A digital immigrant is an individual who grew up without digital technology and adopted it later.
The Naturalized Digita1
Of course having achieved this incredible new state of naturalization brings up many questions: What rights does it entitle me to?
Can I vote on a digital president? Do I have a moral obligation to help others in the immigration process? If I write an autobiography of my struggle for immigration and naturalization, do I have to give out a print copy? Charlie Chaplin and Mary Antin would be so proud of me!