Social misfits and collective outcasts. Awkward conversationalists and wallflowers. Entitled and lacking of independent thought. This is not a select group of few. This describes an entire generation of people: The Millennials.
Simon Sinek, modern day idealist and author, has examined much about the millennial class, and the reason behind their controversial behavior. Among other roots, he ascribes electronics and social media as a reason for their incompetence; specifically the addictive behavior and social deprivation that results from repeated usage. He specifically states, “We know that engagement with social media and our cellphones releases a chemical called Dopamine … is the exact same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, when we drink, and when we gamble. In other words, it’s highly, highly addictive,” and any harmless substance can become dangerous in large enough quantities.
What is the harm of a computerized addiction? Most prominently, the effects are on social and interpersonal relations. We live in a world where all of our lives’ institutions are centralized to one device, and immediately available from anywhere. Food, books, entertainment, education, conversation, and a lifetime’s worth of information can all be accessed in our hands. This is a major accomplishment, but at the cost of our patience, our expectations, and our independence.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project conducted an online survey on 1,021 individuals and their opinion of how technology will shape the minds of teens and young adults. That can be viewed here.
Participants decided between two viewpoints - that their minds would be wired to become excellent multitaskers and information gatherers, or to become distracted and vigilant only of immediate occurrences.
The latter viewpoint has been a central topic of discussion for many authors and logicians, exemplified in George Orwell’s 1984. We are given so much in so little time that it becomes a standard in our minds. If a video buffers for more than 10 or 20 seconds, we exit it and move on.
The new generation feels out of place when given free time. A lunch break during work. Relaxing monotony after a stressful day A quiet, unengaging Sunday morning -- once considered periods to stop, breathe, and think. Millennials today do not see that. Unoccupied time is time wasted in their eyes, and they do with it the only thing they know how to do - kill time.
We have phone games, youtube videos, and social media to fly by uneventful periods. We consider it to be inconsequential be inactive and immobile. What we fail to realize is the value in idleness.
Simon Sinek stated, “Trust doesn’t form in an event, in a day. Even bad times don’t form trust immediately. It’s the slow, steady consistency. And we have to create mechanisms where we allow for those little, innocuous interactions to happen.”