The term “digital native” is often used to describe an age group or a class of people who embrace technology. But those descriptions miss the mark. A digital native isn’t defined by when you were born or what device you own. It’s a mind set – a perspective on the world. To a digital native the internet isn’t a separate place. It’s an always on, always present layer of our daily life. Digital natives don’t ‘surf’ the web or think of it as a virtual space. It’s not external to our reality – it’s part of it; an invisible constantly changing, constantly present layer woven into our physical world.
To a digital native the world is just naturally connected. Sharing our thoughts on Twitter is normal. Checking into work on Foursquare is natural. Chatting on Google Talk or Facebook is just like picking up the phone or sitting down for a drink. We don’t share our lives online due to some egotistical need to be noticed. We do it because community extends beyond the 4 walls of a building or the houses on our street. To us family is more than just the group of genetically similar people we grew up with. Family and Community exists everywhere.
When we share we aren’t shouting to a room – we’re starting a conversation. We aren’t putting it out there because we expect everyone else to care – we’re doing it because someone will care. Someone will find value in what we’re saying, the photo we’re posting or the article we’re sharing. We don’t believe the sharing of thoughts, ideas and information needs a fancy platform or a corporate presence – just a few kindred spirits who care about the same thing. To us it’s community and collaboration in their purest forms.
This mindset and belief is not limited to a single demographic. It’s not defined by when you were born or who your parents are. It’s defined by what you do and how you act. So the next time you come across the term “digital native” consider for a moment how you use and think of the web because no matter who you are it’s possible they’re talking about you.