I’ve got to give it up for Marc Prensky. “Digital Native/Digital Immigrant”: it’s hard to imagine discussing 21C without this digital coding. Like so much in the digital world it’s a binary distinction—a bunch of 1s and 0s strung together constituting “information.” I’ve got to give it up for Marc Prensky because, since 2001, everyone and their Digital Immigrant Mother has been responding to him.
The dia-blog has “evolved” from Prensky’s inchoate bifurcation. Toledo (2007) discusses the thickness of the Immigrant’s accent and cites Feeney (n.d.) who suggested adding “Digital Recluse”, “Digital Refugee”, “Digital Explorer”, “Digital Innovator”, and “Digital Addict” to the fray. Unable to resist, Toledo offered up “Digital Tourist” and we have Stoerger (2009) to thank for “Digital Melting Pot.” Cyber-fondue anyone?
It seems to me that the disclaimer “Digital” is on the verge of becoming meaningless. The proliferation of “Digital Fill In The Blanks” reminds me the scene in The Social Network where Justin Timberlake tells Jessie Eisenberg, ‘Drop the “The”. Call it “Facebook”, it’s much cooler.’ Honestly, how long will it be before we look back, chuckle at Prensky and think, ‘Digital? That’s SO Analog!’
But for now the whole “Digital #$%#” seems to be sticking. Thing is, I don’t like my choices. So here are a few new ones off the top of my head (sticking with the Bible as inspiration for the time being):
“Digital Yahweh”: Created the whole interweb in 6 days. Status says “resting” on Shabbat.
“Digital Elohim”: Offers judgmental comments on peoples’ Facebook pages all day.
“Digital Abraham”: Posts “first” on every new YouTube video.
“Digital Sarah”: Often heard laughing obnoxiously in the computer lab.
“Digital Isaac”: Blinded from too much staring at the screen.
“Digital Rebecca”: Hours spent online increased dramatically after falling off camel.
“Digital Jacob”: Hacked into his brother’s birthright account.
“Digital Rachel”: Has a beautiful profile pic.
“Digital Leah”: Keeps her profile “veiled” from public view.
Obviously I could go on. The whole “Digital Native/Digital Immigrant” phenomenon reminds me of the power of language in constructing meaning. Here’s a quote from Richard Rorty that captures the way I feel:
The world does not speak. Only we do. The world can, once we have programmed ourselves with a language, cause us to hold beliefs. But it cannot propose a language for us to speak. Only other human beings can do that.
So let’s talk about me. How do I see myself? Native, immigrant, deity, patriarch? I think for now the monicker that feels most apt is “Digital Dude” (or perhaps “Digital Lebowski”). Although I think Dude Digitalis is much more beast. Why? Because at this point I’m willing to sit back and see how the whole thing plays out. Technology is cool. It’s fun. It’s hip. Aside from the whole nuclear/biological/chemical warfare thing technology is relatively harmless. So for now Dude Digitalis abides. So it goes.