Digital people


Just heard two definitions concerning knowledge of digital technology. Apparently there are two sorts of people: digital natives and digital immigrants. The first category, so we’re told, have differently wired brains and are born in the digital age and the second category speak digital but with a heavy accent. Which group do you belong to?


Hi Alan

That’s an interesting concept. I’d definitely call myself an “digital immigrant”. Lots of the tech vocabulary has become familar, but too much is still mysterious. Having to learn what numbers mean - instead of words - still annoys me because I can’t understand what the meaning is. There seems to be no logic. For me it’s just random numbers. I’ve finally learned what “Error 404” means, but that’s just one of what has to be thousands of possible digital language errors I must be making. Fortunately, I seem to have started doing a few things better because nowadays I’m not faced with quite as many of these numbers.

There is one particular digital language experience that will forever remain firmly imprinted on my memory banks: the first time my PC informed me that a “fatal exception” had occurred. Fatal! That sounds pretty darn serious, doesn’t it? Final! The point of no return! I naturally immediately assumed that I (a complete novice) had managed to kill my new PC and that I’d have to buy another one. :lol:

Are you an immigrant too, Alan?


Hi Amy,

Yes, I am. Although I suppose I’m a kind of born again digital immigrant because at first back in 1993 (they always say back in, don’t they?) I pooh-poohed the whole idea of the Internet and all it stood for. I now know better of course but my digital prowess is very simplistic. When something goes wrong and before I reach for the phone to talk to my favourite computer shop (goes by the name of Computer Wizard and they’re a really happy crowd always willing to have a laugh when I speak digital with a very strong accent) I turn the wrteched (typo of course but could also be a new word meaning wretched technical?) machine off and then start again. It usually works.


Hi Amy! Hi Alan!

Also it is hard enough to command the single applications, as there are the system and user applications, have you ever had a look into system files using the DOS Editor? Doing that I?m used to say that I not only have an accent but be not a habitant of the computer-world. Or are that people, who write such files, from outer space? I?m really curious! :?

However, I?m happy not to be the only alien in the modern computer-nation. :lol:


This expression of yours is probably a ‘Michaelism’ by now! In fact, when I read it, I almost seem to accept it and consider it a hallmark of your particular brand of English – relax, we all have our very own special brand, which kind of peps up the language, I think. In fact, if (familiar) posters’ names were not shown, I’m sure we could almost always recognize the authors of posts (why don’t we make a game of it sometime, by the way?).

What you mean by that expression is ‘I must say that’, assumably. ‘I’m used to’ [ju:zd] means ‘I’m accustomed to’ or ‘I’m familiar with’: I’m used to getting up early; I’m used to drinking beer out of a boot (!)



That’s a good one!

Hi Conchita!

Thanks for advising to me own style of English. Like I explained to Tamara: It?s easy to learn a second language but a challenge is to find anybody who understand your style of second language. :wink: :lol:

I think, that were a very good way to improve English skills, although to play that game it needed a good range of the language. But sometimes it also could be possible to recognize somebody by the context of his/her post.

Conchita, you?re right with your identification of my mistake. I should have written : I must say. But reading your complete explanation I must say as far as my term I?m used to saying were grammatically correct, it also contents a bit of truth regarding the theme of the topic.

By the way, isn?t it funny how improving of language skills works? I?ve always been looking for an expression for I?m used to doing while I was using it the wrong way. Thank you, Conchita, for pointing this out! 8)

Wish you a wonderful evening today. Do you drink a glass of sangria with fresh fruits and some ice?


Hey, that’s an idea! Thanks for reminding me of that wonderful, refreshing drink – which can also send your head spinning before you know it!

A little anecdote: in the northwestern region of Le?n, drinking sangr?a (they call it lemonade) during the Holy Week is called ‘killing Jews’ (totally incorrect, politically and socially, I know) – meaning the Jews who killed Jesus (who was a Jew, too!).

Hi Conchita!

In my region of Germany there is a similar usage on the second Christmas Day called: Stoning Stephanus. Which is of course nonsens. It better were called: Drowning Stephanus . Some people do that really successful.

How did the sangria smell?


:lol: (I’m not laughing about poor St Stephen, of course!)

I didn’t have any after all – but I replaced it with gazpacho :slight_smile: !

Back to the original point of the thread, I don’t think the categories are accurate. A lot of people who were born in the digital age are definitely digital immigrants and are less at home with digital technology than many old geezers. I see this when I look at a bunch of students who claim they can’t do some simple computer-related task and don’t even know it’s possible. I say, “All you have to do is (bla bla bla).” They look at me blankly, as if I’d come from another planet, while retirees I know would say, “Wow! Good tip!” and go do it. Half the time the retiree will come back with an even easier way to perform the task. The students will often just struggle.

The distressing thing is that a lot of American university students don’t even know what “binary” means. This means they have no idea how a computer works. They think it’s just a TV that “knows” things. It’s kind of distressing to me, because before we were 12, kids in my school could perform operations in binary math. (Of course, we also knew the name of the Canadian province 20 minutes from our house, which about half of my students today don’t.)