When I was born, in the 1950s, TV was new. While the basic forms of the medium were in place, most of what we saw was borrowed from other media—burlesque, radio, movies, the stage.
But our generation defined TV. We made it a basic part of our vocabulary from the start. The quick-cuts and self-references from decades spent in front of the tube, everything from Saturday Night Live through MTV to The Simpsons—those were made by us.
My kids, now 15 and 12, have a different vocabulary. My kids are part of the Internet Generation.
They have grown up with PCs. My son was four when the Web was spun. On Friday nights they go to their rooms. My 15-year-old daughter is lost in Fanfiction.net. My son plays with Sid Maier's Civilization games, or on Neopets.com. There is no fighting for our one TV. I sit before it alone.
If you can't wait for my kids to grow up to see what comes next, go to any college campus. Today's sophomores were in grade school when the Web was spun. And they have created new niches for you before our eyes.
Here is one. When you're hungry, it's a drag to go offline, pick up a phone, then drive somewhere to cure your munchies. Here you pick from among a list of local fast-food houses, order from an online menu, pay by credit card, and wait for the grub to come to you.
Staying on campus means staying online. Take a look at the shopping districts around most college campuses. If they don't have Wi-Fi access, they're empty.
College students take these preferences with them when they go into the world. When my neighbor has a party, he doesn't crank up the stereo. He programs a list of MP3s, runs them through good speakers, and then leaves everything alone. Every anticipated mood—welcoming, drinking, romanticizing, leaving—they're all pre-programmed.