Sailaja N. Joshi

Generation One-hundred and forty (or Gen140 for short)

In Consumer 2.0, Presentation of Self, Social Change on April 20, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I’ve been thinking a lot about Gen140, a name I coined in reference to the generation (present and future) that will undoubtedly be fixated with how to shorten words, phrases and the like.

Gen140 is an interesting generation. It is not made up of a certain group of individuals born during a specific century or era. Gen140s are not from a specific country or speak a specific language. In fact the only force that binds Gen140 together is this little thing called twitter.

Imagine that.

A generation of people who are bound together by a force that in all reality we cannot see or touch.  It is this invisible entity that has quickly become the very identity on which many people live upon.

And then today, while reading through my twitter feed I  saw the following via bostonmarketer who is attending the 140conf:

That’s right. With every tweet we send out into that wonderful universe known as the World Wide Web, we share a little piece of our identity, our culture and ourselves.  Not only are we sharing ourselves, but we are also adapting ourselves as new cultures and people influence us. Thinking back to my friend Goffman, twitter has essentially become a virtual presentation of self.

When twitter was first gaining further popularity I thought, “Geez, this is going to be the demise of the written language.” And well, let’s face it, it probably has. But language, along with culture and society, are not static. They are in fact a living, breathing collection of individuals who are constantly changing the organism of culture they live within.

While I’m sure the results of 140 will be felt in subsequent generation, I think twitter presents us with an opportunity we have never encountered. It allows people of different cultures, ideals and values to interact on a common plane. It allows for new cultures to be formed and developed without the typical social hierarchies that society is use to seeing. As a result, the way we begin to interact with people in the ‘real’ world is going to change dramatically along our perception of culture and identity.

All this in just 140 characters, now isn’t that amazing?

  1. giving twitter too much credit, i dont think its worthy of a generation. with that said, its sad that i have to check when the CPA scores come out on twitter. because the national association of State Boards of Accountancy operates through a twitter.

    • Hi Aditya-

      I don’t think I’m giving twitter enough credit! The fact is that it has changed the way people interact with each other and we communicate. Perhaps the results will be short lived, but the results will be lasting.


  2. Great post! I was quoting the speaker at the time, but i couldn’t agree more. Someone responded to me and asked “But what if you’re faking who you are on Twitter?” My response? “Well, then that shows you something about that person.” It works in the negative too!

    • Hey Rachel!

      Thanks so much for visiting the blog, and letting me see that quote! Even though I wasn’t at the conference I was able to ‘hear’ what was going on through your tweets!

      And it so true, twitter can work in the converse. If you’re faking it online, you’re probably faking it in real life too!


  3. agreed! great post! I was reading earlier today about a twitter-war between Jezebel Magazine and Scott Baio. Crazy how the things people write on their twitter feed in 140 words or less are now becoming either news worthy (which is odd enough) but also material for consistent banter, criticism and ridicule. (Futhermore there is now merchandise, web pages, and new vocab being created specifically for this particular twitter-war. Crazy!) I can’t help but wonder what impact this time of digital debating will have on this generation and ones to come.

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