My peers, our generation, and I were christened as “the millennials” some years back. This name is not meant to imply that the changing of one set of 1000 years to another is in itself a generationally defining event. Rather, our generational name is a symbol of the empowerment of the individual through new technology and access to information.
Many of us, from all parts of the planet, grew up around countless machines and access to information. Even our more numerous peers who did not grow up with any of these privileges are privy to the existence of an interconnected world.
We are voracious consumers whose gadgets demand a superstructure of global networks to function. Pretty much all of us expect this technology to exist just about everywhere in the world, even if it is only accessed by a privileged minority. Without our connectivity we can feel shut out, or shut in, as the case may be.
The growth of this connectivity has come at such a fast rate that we already take it for granted. I cannot name a single university or national hotel chain in the United States that does not provide wireless internet. It is absurd to many of us to think that there existed a time when this connectivity was limited and even more ridiculous to imagine when it did not exist (even so, the imagination is hardly necessary since all of these machines were invented in our lifetime; they did not exist when we were born).
The services we value are reflected with our new obsession over devices and their connectivity. I am more likely to go to a café that provides free wi-fi and poor coffee than to a café that sells tasty coffee but lacks wi-fi, or where the wi-fi costs extra.
Get your hands on a recent US magazine with plenty of advertisements and check out how connectivity is used to market products. We pass judgments on places we patronize as quickly as we can check to see how many bars of cell phone signal we are getting and how many megabytes per second the wi-fi connection provides.
As Cuba continues to expand from high-end tourism to welcoming hordes of vacationing “millennials” and the inevitable fall of the illegal blockade by the United States of America comes to pass, this country will be judged by the same standards.
Will the new tourists give their hosts the benefit of the historical doubt: that a country blockaded and subverted could not possible meet their demands of global connectivity? Or will they expect Cuba to keep pace with the rest of the world when it comes to accommodating guests technological needs?
Based on how we already take the connectivity for granted, and how genuinely disrupted some people’s lives can be by removal from their digital world, I suppose that the latter attitude will prevail.