If we listen, we can learn a lot from our children. This morning, as I was driving my teenage son and daughter to school, a story came on the radio about the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica problem. It prompted a discussion between them, the conclusion of which can best be described as “So what?”. My first thought was that that was the result of childish ignorance but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it actually came from a generational difference in experience and philosophy that is significant for investors.
It was not that they were unaware of how social media and the digital world in general made their data and preferences visible, it was that they saw it as a reasonable price to pay for their access to social media platforms and other conveniences of modern life. I prompted a discussion on the targeted ads that I and many of my generation find so scary, but for them, they were not weird at all. Receiving them was simply convenient.
My generation grew up all too aware of the dangers of the erosion of privacy, either experiencing or being given first hand accounts of the rise of dictatorships around the world. Thankfully our children have not. Instead they have lived in the modern developed western world, where a combination of market forces, regulations and experience have combined to curb the worst excesses of both corporations and governments.
All that leads to the inevitable conclusion that those who see the stories about…