Meet Kenya’s “Touch” Generation – An emerging social class of the digital elite.
Kenya is undoubtedly in the midst of a technology-driven revolution. You can tell because now everybody’s status reads “always online” a sure sign that we are in the midst of a digital upheaval. However, even as we embrace this new phenomenon, there is an emergence of an elite digital social class. You can see them when you go to that upmarket mall or restaurant. You see them pecking away incessantly on their digital paraphernalia of phones, tablets and laptops. They live online. They have legions of digital followers, friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Their blogs sway public opinion on matters as trivial as fashion sense and music style, to the more serious topics such as multi-billion shilling political scandal and the next general election that mainstream media are hesitant to touch. They are Kenya’s “digerati” or what I prefer to call the touch generation.
The touch generation are everything that is digitally cool. They are well educated, highly exposed and seemingly have infinite bandwidth on all things digital. They wield their iPhones, iPads and any other forms of touch devices with magical ease and kung fu mastery. If it were possible, we would bestow upon them black belts in the digital arts. They are the cutting edge ying to what is the rest of the world’s old school yang.
Going forward, the irony about the current touch generation is that they are just the tip of the iceberg. It occurs to me now, more than ever, that I am a digital dinosaur of sorts when I still use a full-sized macbook to get things done instead of an iPad. Case in point is that my two-year-old son is fast becoming increasingly adept at slinging angry birds on my iPhone with no form of previous instruction. It is these, the newest arrivals of the touch generation, which amaze me the most. Technology has become so intuitive that even two year olds “get it” even as our generation struggles to come to grips with what the real value of a tablet device like the iPad really is. It’s quite perplexing to say the least.
As I see it, the touch generation is quite possibly the next step of human evolution, as we know it. It’s a generation that is always “logged on” with digital technology and is most at ease with it. A life without being online for them would be like a life without oxygen. I dread to imagine what would happen to the touch generation should they suddenly be unable to access their blogs, Facebook Wall or Tweets all the time – at home, at work, and on the move. Could such a thing simply lead to the collapse of humanity, as we know it? I think it’s not that farfetched when the effects of the Arab Spring were essentially a result of the touch generation’s collective digital heave. The touch generation changes everything.