Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Say goodbye to some old friends

We're used to complaining that the teenagers of today don't read books and don't write letters. And the not reading books part is really sad. (Yes, I know your son/daughter/niece/grandchild reads lots - but on average teenagers are reading less than we did at the same age.) It's a trend I truly wish (without too much hope) will be reversed. How can I not, as a writer? But I think these are part of a significantly bigger change that will take place as the current generation grows up. Here's a couple of suggestions based on observations of nearby teens:
  • Watches are doomed. Well, not exactly doomed, but they will become something to wear occasionally for show, rather than everyday essentials. Neither of my teenage daughters wears a watch. They have them, but they don't bother. 'Why should I? I've got my phone.' And it does so much more with alarms and all that stuff. The wristwatch looks set to go the way of the pocket watch.
  • Cards will get their cards. (See what I did there?) Christmas cards, birthday cards, holiday postcards - will become niche products. Holiday postcards are likely to go first. I mean why suffer the agony that is 'It's time to write the postcards!' when it's all on Facebook anyway? But I have also noticed a very casual approach to birthday and Christmas cards. Yes, right now they do still give them, because it has been drummed into them - but when the teens get cards, they don't carefully line them on the mantlepiece or in the bedroom. They're left in pile. Some may not even get opened. Cards imply a social network that you aren't in regular touch with. But again, why bother when you can do it on Facebook? I don't think all cards will go. Cards to convey an emotion (Valentines, 'Get well soon', 'Sorry you're leaving') are likely to stay, but not the ones based on convention.
I'm sure there are plenty more examples for would-be futurologists to have fun with. But if I were you, I wouldn't plan to sell watches or to own a card shop in 30 years time.


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