By Jessie Bruner
Facebook. Texting. IMing. Snapchatting. Instagramming. Millennials today have thousands of communicational resources at their fingertips, literally. With all the headway that’s been done in technology in the past 20 years, Millennials have been called the Technology Generation, the Net Generation, or Generation Y.
These nicknames stem from an overwhelming abundance of technological dependency in our generation. But is that a bad thing? Or could we use technology to shape our future?
In a study done by Pew Research Center, technology experts are “fairly evenly split as to whether the younger generation’s always-on connection to people and information will turn out to be a net positive or a net negative by 2020.” The experts say that many people in today’s world are “hyperconnected to each other” and count on the Internet as their “external brain.”
On the one had, some researchers say that being connected and constantly networking is a skill that millennials possess to thrive in today’s society, especially in their work places. Millennials are expected to stay with in arm’s length of their employers via cellphone at all times. Maybe thought of as a bad thing initially, staying connected gives millennials the leg up against their fierce, ever-growing, competition.
On the other hand, Pew Research has found that the multitasking, networking, social media-dependent generation does not “retain information; they spend most of their energy sharing short social messages, being entertained, and being distracted away from deep engagement with people and knowledge.”
This brings us to our next question: what is it doing to their interpersonal relationships?
In a survey done by Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College, “60% of prospective employers said that millennial applicants lacked communication and interpersonal skills.” The same applicants excelled in other skills such as technology, science, and engineering. The employers overpassed these applicants because they simple couldn’t communicate at an appropriate level.
So what does this mean for our generation? Should we embrace technology and all of its facets, using it as a tool to help us climb the social, economical, and financial ladders? Or do we put our phones away and have a real conversation with a real human, ignoring the 20+ notifications from every social media site out there? Is balance possible?
First, learn when cellphone use is appropriate. Social situations when you’re with friends or at a party is probably not an appropriate time to check Facebook. Use your technology skills to be a better asset at work or at school. Download dictionary and news apps to keep yourself up-to-date on your current events. Use organizational tools to help keep your life in order.
Second, make time for your interpersonal relationships. Haven’t talked to your mom in a while? Take her to lunch. Notice that your friend is having a hard day? Go get some ice cream with them. Keep that phone in your pocket, though. People need to know that you value their presence. Show them that you care by giving them eye contact, positive body language, and verbal responses. Remember what they say and ask about it in later conversations. Interpersonal relationships are proven to boost self-confidence, self worth, and overall morale.
Albert Einstein once said that he “fear[ed] the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” Let us be the ones to stop that. Let’s put our phones down and value the face-to-face interactions we have, while we still have them.
(Image via stocksnap.io by Jan Vašek)