Maxim Behar: Generation F Rules the World
An interview by Emil Spahiyski from Trud daily with Maxim Behar, leading Bulgarian PR expert and journalist, who recently presented his latest book, "Generation F - They Rule the World Today," dedicated to the Facebook, Twitter, and social networks generation. The book, both in Bulgarian and in English, is available on Amazon.
Mr Behar, you are well known for your passion for electronic communication, always armed with the latest gadgets technology has to offer. Do you believe one day on-line media will kill print editions?
Yes, I do expect that newspapers will eventfully die, though it hurts me to say it because I worked as a journalist in a daily newspaper for quite a long time. When my friends get angry at me for saying this, it tell them – the journalist’s job is to sell information, news, articles, interviews, commentaries, not a piece of paper. Why should this prospect instill so much fear in us? True, there are some objective reasons for this reaction – advertisers are getting fewer, the product’s end price – higher.
This is sad. May be I should skip this part of the interview for the print edition of our newspaper. But then how come you published your latest book on paper?
That’s not exactly true. The book is published both on paper and electronically. The book, both in Bulgarian and in English, is available on Amazon and sells really well. My next book will sell only on Amazon from the very beginning, while the paper edition will be offered as a souvenir.
How did you come up with the idea for this book?
This is directly related to the business I run and my profession - public communications. I wanted to share my thoughts about this new generation. Then I told myself that the book would be far more objective and colorful, I should provide the opinions of a dozen other people - all of them friends of mine, successful Bulgarians in different fields - athletes, journalists, publishers, writers. They belong to different generations.
"Generation F" apparently refers to Facebook. Does the letter “F” stand for something else too?
Yes, definitely one of the words it refers to is Facebook. But I think there are three English words that define our lives: Facebook, fear (fear), fuck. Modern society are in the grip of fear - fear of the new, fear of publicity. The new realities may be shocking – before only politicians, artists, some famous athletes were public figure, today everyone is a public figure. The third word is the favorite word of my favorite rock band - "Green day". I don’t mean anything vulgar when I use it. It can stand for life, it can be a swear word or an exclamation mark.
Do you really believe that Generation F will rule the world?
It is already ruling the world. In today’s world generations are not divided into group based on age, other factors play a crucial rule – how fast the people react, who willing they are to share knowledge. There are people, who are aged 60, but react quickly, say interesting things, share their knowledge with others. On the other hand, there are young people – aged 20 something – who are small slow and passive that it would take an electricity shock to wake them up. They are absolutely passive users of social media, they are indifferent to the world around them. The power of social media lies is the exchange of knowledge. When you log into your Facebook account, you share something interesting. I read it and share it with other people. So we find ourselves in an unprecedented in the human history situation – we know many, many things and accumulate knowledge.
But those who has more knowledge, has more grief, don’t you agree?
We can choose want to learn and we select. We also adapt to the new realities. I read recently an article by scientists, who say the human face will evolve over tens of thousands of years to have big, intense eyes and a bigger head to contain our super-powered brains. It sounds funny, but this may well be the future.
In my opinion it is much, much better to have access to and filter lots of information rather than have no information and be censored. Why am I saying that generation F rules the world? Because these are the people who shape the public opinion, because these are the people who live in a global state. In the old times papers were written only by journalists. Now everyone can create its own media and break the news. Facebook in particular is a huge social media and as we see thanks to social media no one can silence the public. You can not buy Facebook users.
That’s no doubt a big change, but it brought about new dangers – US services are spying the whole world. It created new occupations too, such as full time bloggers. These are all people, who are trying to deliberately shape and manipulate online debates.
The good news is that it is very easy to recognize a paid blogger. The power of social networks is that they are personalized. When you read the status or click on a link posted by a particular person, you know who he is. If he has published no picture, no personal data and is not your friend, you can not believe him. As to the issue of spying in the US, this is no surprise, especially after the events of September 11. I hope they do it legally, not like here. Spying programs can not affect the independence of social media. Who can you censor Facebook?
Social networking is a form of cultural revolution, but it may well give rise to a counter-revolution. Do you expect people to start going back to the traditional values of the past?
No, this is not a revolution, but a tsunami, which sweeps everything away. There may be some nostalgia, but it will hardly last long. I personally have been reading books for years. But now my e-book reader contains 2000 books and it fits my back pocket. My library is unlimited by time and space. Whether I am aboard an airplane or just have some free time, I can read from the e-book reader. I can’t carry around paper books in this way. This is one of the goals of my book - to present my point of view as a person working in the area of public relations. I invited 19 people to have their say in my book and present their view what I call Generation F.
Which is the next generation that will wipe out and replace tablets, phones and "Generation F"?
Generation G, most probably. From Google Glass, the Internet-connected eyewear that has dominated technology headlines over the last year. Just in a few years everyone will be wearing those glasses. That means real time video, real-time communications, in practice, you can talk to someone as if he was in front of you.
God forbid you lose your glasses!
Well, it is no big tragedy. It’s like losing your phone. Then you just buy another. But after Google glasses, what’s next? We can not even imagine that! But we can surely say that generations will change.
How many years equal to a generation?
Until recently it was generally considered to be seven years. Now I think generations change faster. I think I will have to write a new book every year.