Shock of the New

13 Mar 2007|Added Value

This is a poignant story with a twist.

A few weeks ago my adorable niece Nicole turned four. I attended her birthday party at the local children’s gym, took snapshots and video and ate too much pizza. There was, of course, a mountain of presents, to which I contributed.

Being the doting technophile uncle, I decided to create a custom birthday card featuring lovely Nikki with her (and pretty much every child in the free world’s) favorite entertainment act – The Wiggles. I downloaded an image of the Aussie gents and Photoshopped Nicole into their midst. I superimposed the phrase “Happy Birthday” and printed the thing on glossy stock with my venerable Epson.

I didn’t occur to me to consider how Nikki might respond to my gift until the card was in her little hands. While my brother-in-law David muffled laughter and my sister cooed, Nicole merely stared with a blank expression at the colorful image. Murray, Anthony, and Greg all smiled; and there she was – on the lap of her favorite beaming Wiggle, Jeff.

She didn’t seem excited; she didn’t seem shocked. She merely stared. I’m not sure what I expected. She really had no cognitive framework for assimilating the image of herself in apparent physical proximity with a group of characters she had admired for years and never actually met. How could this have happened? She handed the picture to her father, without expression, and ran off to play with friends.

It’s interesting to consider how prepared each of is to respond to, or even recognize the “new.” There are tales of isolated tribesmen failing to recognize airplanes on the horizon due to a lack of cognitive schema – not even being aware of their presence.

When the next transformative experience or technology presents itself for public consumption how will you recognize it and respond? Will you engage and adapt or will you move on?

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