The Digital Generation Gap

The Washington Post has a great article on the digital gap that exists between parents and their kids… especially when the parents are high profile newsmakers.

Watts’s views about his employer appear to contradict those of his father, Wayne Watts, who is senior vice president and associate general counsel of AT&T Corp., Cingular’s parent company. The senior Watts, whom Jared credits with landing him the job, is defending AT&T’s customer service record before regulators as the company tries to acquire BellSouth Corp.

Unlike their parents, today’s youth have grown up in the age of public disclosure. Keeping an Internet diary has become de rigueur; social lives and private thoughts are laid bare. For parents in high-profile positions, however, it means their children can exploit a generational disconnect to espouse their own points of view, or expose private details perhaps their parents wish they would not.

“All the things I’ve typed in my blog I’ve argued with my father about,” like whether mergers hurt customers, something Jared Watts said he thinks does inconvenience consumers. But publicly criticizing his company is not the same as a personal attack on the father who supports him “100 percent,” he said.

This ties into what I said recently about how our cultural attitude towards privacy is changing. The internal workings of a corporation have always been terribly opaque, at least traditionally speaking. Teenage life gets recorded on MySpace. Think there’s a disconnect?

What will be interesting to watch over the next several years is what will happen when these opposing cultures clash. As today’s teenagers enter the workplace, which culture will prevail, the culture of secrecy or the culture of transparency?

Going off topic for a second, I just have to highlight this paragraph from the article as well (emphasis mine):

His father, speaking through an AT&T spokesman, said: “I care very much for my son. And like many fathers and sons, we have differences of opinion on many subjects.”

I wonder if the same AT&T spokesman tucked his son in and red him bedtime stories when he was younger?

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