It’s time to face up to the fact that technology addiction is real, and it’s especially prevalent amongst the millennial generation.
According to the latest data study conducted by The Pew Research Center, ninety percent of adults own cell phones, and sixty-three percent use their devices to go online. Ninety two percent of young teenagers have reported spending time online at least once a day, and twenty-four percent say they’re online “almost constantly.” It’s almost foreign to not see someone on a smartphone or a computer at least once a day, and even if people are holding an in-person conversation, one of those devices is probably out in full view or within reach.
Perhaps this is just an indication of our ever-changing society, but there’s no ignoring the glaring consequences that have followed. Learning has taken a sharp turn, teens and older are more inclined to play games, text, or watch television and opposed to being outside. Traffic deaths have almost become commonplace due to the need to post or respond immediately on mobile devices, where laws have had to be passed to ensure public safety. Building and maintaining personal relationships seem impossible because people spend more time getting to know each other on a screen than actually socializing in public. Baby boomers and onward are shaking their heads as communication skills and intrapersonal connection are being put on the backburner for the sake of distraction and supposed interest.
We know what’s happening, and recognize that these trends may not be for the better. But it’s not as simple as telling someone to put away their phone or tablet and go do something productive. Discipline is most certainly necessary, but going cold turkey doesn’t work for everyone, especially when you’ve been accustomed to being around technology for almost your whole life. If you want to change a pattern of behavior, you can’t remove the negative aspect and expect everything to come together on its own; there needs to be a healthy replacement, something that will fill the need that the addiction has been supposedly supplementing. In the case of Millennials, there’s this overwhelming ache to connect and relate to others on a regular basis, as well as passion to contribute and belong. Yet, the risk of vulnerability becomes of the pushback.
Instead of trying to simmer that passion and creative energy, why not take it in another direction?
It’s one thing to say that social media and online networking are popular, but the use of social media and digital content marketing for business is white-hot. Most businesses in this current age cannot thrive without a digital marketing strategy in place, especially when it comes to social media. I was drawn to the industry because it combined both of my biggest passions: not only do I enjoy writing and being creative, but I also feel most alive when I am engaging with others and building relationships. It’s hard to describe the experience in detail, but I’m fascinated by the concept of creating all different types of content, and learning about content and marketing from various thought leaders. Additionally, it’s interesting to look back and see how that engagement has paid off, whether it be in the form of numbers and impressions, or positive regards from those in the industry. It feels like I’m doing something worthwhile with these advances in technology, rather than just mindlessly stumbling around Facebook or Twitter because I need to be entertained or validated. And because I spend so much of my work day on the internet, I’m less motivated to spend time on it for social reasons after hours and even on the weekends. There’s a craving for balance, where I’m more likely to communicate by phone or in person because I need a break from using a screen and a keyboard.
Again, you don’t have to be in the marketing industry in itself to be involved with marketing. Every business needs promotional advocacy, both in the form of digital platforms and traditional methods. Regardless of the avenue, you have to be willing to initiate conversation, ask questions, and get in front of people to find out what they need and how you can meet that need. There’s a lot of talk in regards face-to-face communication becoming a relic of what once was, but email, Google Hangouts, and Skype can only do so much in terms of articulating meaning and emotions. Learning how to interact and network does a lot for confidence, communication, and perseverance in the midst of obstacles. And there’s no telling what doors will be opened and what opportunities will be presented when you know what to say and how to say it.
On the other side, marketing itself is a difficult role to break into, regardless of what industry people choose to work in. The majority of companies want people that have several years of experience, sometimes more, depending on the company or position. Having a degree in marketing or communications (with internships to boot) will definitely help, but it’s still a competitive field that takes a lot of patience and determination. And with all the debates and beliefs regarding Millennials (especially in the workforce), it’s easy to see why many get discouraged, choosing to hide behind texting and social networks instead of boldly pursuing what they want. And if the older generations are only going to criticize and lament about the “Old Days”, it’s no wonder that the young ones are constantly on the defensive end.
Whether it involves job placement or gaining a broader perspective, there has to be a willingness to listen and understand. It’s time for both Baby Boomers and Millennials to stop arguing over sweeping generalizations and start making an effort to learn from and mentor one another. Instead of bending over backwards for the sake of proving (or disproving) something, why not demonstrate what you have to offer? Both grew up in different eras and have different ways of doing things, much of which is still timeless and worth sharing. Neither side knows everything or has all the answers, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t wisdom to be shared, gained, and passed on as time goes by. Taking the time to get to the heart of the matter makes collaboration that much more valuable, and the more people work together, the more likely they can make a positive impact.