[iDC] From Digital Natives to Digital Outcasts: Reflection 1

Douglas Rushkoff rushkoff at gmail.com
Sat Sep 3 16:51:14 UTC 2011

> 1. Your description of the "everyday digital natives" as those who (in
> contrast to the outcasts?) are "users of technologies who have a stake in
> social transformation and political participation" offers helpful
> alternatives to the vacuous and non-vernacular terms such as 'civically
> engaged youth,' so often used in disciplines ranging from media education,
> media literacy, political science, sociology, youth studies, social movement
> studies, and/or media studies to understand youth, social media, and ?civic
> engagement?.

This is largely what I was trying to address when I first made the distinction between "digital natives" and "digital immigrants" in Playing the Future (1995).  Having just emerged from ten years studying rave culture and differentiating it from 1960's activism, I had concluded that the digital native communities were quite determined that their activism have no explicit agenda. It was as if they understood that protesting *against* something would subject them to the same sort of reaction formation that defined punk. Having witnessed (or at least believing that they had witnessed) the sellout of 60's radicals, they wanted to avoid having an explicit agenda that they'd later turn their backs on. It was as if anything they specifically chose might be wrong, so nothing was chosen. 

I saw all this as both positive and negative. Most of the negative I put in fiction, not wanting to really criticize the few people attempting counterculture creation, however specious. (Ecstasy Club was about a rave cult with no real moral center - so the only place it could go was egotism and solipsism.) The positive, as I saw it, was the way the agenda-of-no-agenda thwarted mainstream media's efforts to contextualize and then discount a tightly defined "cause." It seemed as if post-modernism was being used against activists, in that no sooner could they recontextualize something that they got recontextualized themselves. So sometimes I felt as if non-specificity was an effort to stay off the radar - even if it led to some inarticulate expressions.  


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