I sat down with media legend Jack Myers to talk about the publication of his recent book, “Hooked Up; A New Generation’s Surprising Take on Sex, Politics and Saving the World.” His book is based on an IPSOS/OTX research survey of one thousand 17-to 21-year-olds plus interviews, and offers a range of insights on the influences, mindsets and behaviors of this first truly Internet-immersed generation. Jack calls those born between 1991 and 1995 “Internet Pioneers,” and says the way they view and interact with the world not only has immediate implications but also a long-term impact on society.
Below is a short excerpt from the interview, which can be viewed here.
CW: What is the definition of television for these Internet Pioneers -- and how will that impact the future of television?
JM: Television to them is video, wherever they are watching. A declining percentage is watching television in the traditional way. They don’t necessarily differentiate between watching “American Idol” live on Fox versus watching a repeat of “Pretty Little Liars or an MTV show that they’ve DVR’d, or that they are watching on Netflix or on-demand. Or that they are pirating over the Internet. More and more of them are looking for ways to watch programming on any number of means to access it, whether that means iTunes or YouTube or whatever.
They love television. It’s extremely important to them. They recognize the importance of broadcast networks. They love the cable networks, but they love YouTube just as much and they are just as likely to watch a three- or five-minute program on YouTube as they are to watch some of the more successful programs on broadcast or cable television.
They tend to treat television the same way they treat music. It is the soundtrack of their lives. There is less loyalty to specific genres or programs. Music used to be packaged by albums with specific well-known artists -- but now, because of such services as Spotify and Pandora, there is a discovery process taking place because new music is being pushed out every day. Television will evolve in the same way -- there will be a constant process of discovery.
CW: If, as you say in your book, this generation is more gender-blind and more open to diversity, how does this play out politically?
JM: I was actually very surprised by the politics of this group. All are now eligible to vote in the 2012 election, and over 90% of these 18- to 22-year-olds intend to vote… not only in this presidential election but also in future elections. Seventy to eighty percent on any given issue tend towards the more moderate and progressive side, and pn average 20% tend to the more conservative side. So they are a very politically progressive block.
There are some issues [where] they don’t even understand the debate. When Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke on the issues of women’s rights and reproductive rights, they didn’t even understand the conversation. The importance of diversity and human rights is such an ingrained part of their DNA that they [were] confused by the debate and the discussion.
While we see it on college campuses today, we can look back and see it in past generations of college students as well. One could say that while they are in college they are progressive, but once they graduate and start in the working world they become more conservative.
But what is going to be interesting about this generation is that they will stay connected to each other by the Internet. They are going to stay Facebook friends. They will become Linked-in friends. They will continue to have those same qualities now -- and society is less likely to bifurcate and polarize in the future than it has in the past several decades.