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October 5, 2009 | by  | in Features |
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Star Wars Kids

@salientmagazine Yo dawgs that shits so lol.

Salient Editor Jackson James Wood continues to explore the internets with an investigation into “the kids”.

Nineteen ninety-nine was an epic year. Mark Blumsky’s voluminous eyebrows, framed by his mayoral chain resided over the Wellington City Council, Telecom launched its Jet Stream service where you could get a whopping 600MB of ADSL bandwidth for only $89 a month and, most importantly, it was the last year we spoke of time in multiples of a hundred.

It is indeed a small and insignificant factoid of little relevance, a glitch in how we talk. For the most part people say two thousand and nine, not twenty naught nine. A change, perhaps. A sleeker way of describing time to suit a sleeker generation.

Despite there only being a gap of about six years, most students at Victoria today are the last generation to remember getting the internet.

Perhaps your parents remember where they were when JFK was shot, or perhaps the day the US pulled out of Vietnam. Not so much for many of you.

The one historical moment that many of our generation remember was the first time they heard the EEEEEEEE-OOOOOO-EEEEEE-GHGHGHGHGHGHHGHGHGHG of their 14.4k modem connecting to the world wide web.

The MSN effect

Countless hours were spent on the Pentium II computer on a program called MSN Messenger. Fourth year politics student Kurt Urich ,25, recalls a time when his life was dominated by those three capital letters.

“I’d go home and plonk straight down in front of the CRT and log in,” he says.

“MSN was really the first social experience I had with the internet. We had a computer but it was mainly used for playing Need for Speed or using Encarta for school assignments.”

Urich notes the amazing capacity for information to travel fast, saying “If someone broke up you’d know within minutes, rather than the next day at school.”

The propensity for instant communications has possibly lead to unrealistic demands from us. When we want information, we need it now.

But now the internet generation has sold out. We willingly allow screeds and screeds of our personal information to be harvested by Facebook, Twitter and Google. This has prompted the President of the United States to issue a warning to youth not to put too much of themselves into the blogosphere.

“In the YouTube age whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life.”

Poignant words from Mr Obama.

Star wars kids

One of the first major examples of just how important this advice has turned into an internet meme—Star Wars Kid.

The recipe for ridicule was simple: take one geeky looking kid with a Star Wars obsession, add a long metal pole and set the video camera to record. Leave the recording somewhere your pals can find it and hey presto. Fourteen and a half million hits later you have an internet sensation.

First year commerce student Harriett Teeple ,18, doesn’t remember life before internet.

“My father worked as a project developer for Telecom on the roll out of ADSL so we had highspeed internet since the time I was about ten.”

“I’ve always been pretty open with what I put on the internet, it’s not like I have much to hide.”

Urich has mixed feelings about sharing information on the internet, “People my age are still fairly weary about what we put online. But at the same time we don’t quite get it.”

Citing the numerous accounts of people getting snapped for improperly calling in sick when their Facebook photos clearly show them consuming large amounts of alcohol and doing the tango on tables.

Teeple acknowledges the potential for damage to her reputation, but says “you just gotta be more savvy.

“At the end of the day we’re the kids who grew up with it and we have a better handle on where it is going and how to use things like Twitter and Facebook. If you’re stupid enough to put revealing information up then you’ll get burnt sooner or later. It is just a natural learning process.”

She has a point. Even though there is a six-year gap between her and Urich, the differences are startling. While Urich sees social networking sites as “somewhat useful and mildly amusing,” Teeple sees them primarily as “fun”.

“I’m really getting into twitter at the moment. You can tweet from anywhere about anything. It’s great for networking because unlike Facebook there isn’t that much personal information and you can still limit who sees what.”

A quick glance at Teeple’s twitter account [@harriT25] reveals she is indeed very open about what she does and who she is.

Tweets from harriT25:

“Making up for a deprived childhood by downloading Aladdin.”

“I think I might be getting sick! NooOOooOOoOOOOO~”

“My perfect guy wears converse, is totally laid back, and doesn`t worry about being cool.”

“The barriers have broken down. This isn’t nineteen ninety-nine. It’s the two thousands, mang,” says Urich, parodying what he calls “the kids”. “The next generation doesn’t need a purpose, they’re selling out—it’s all about the fun.”

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The editor of this fine rag for 2009.

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