Last weekend, a friend who is thirty twice over commented, “I can’t believe it’s already July.” He then added, “It just seems like the older we get, the faster time goes.” With July 4th in the rearview mirror, we started reminiscing about our favorite holidays, traditions and memories. He said, “Remember when we slept in your backyard with friends in a sleeping bag, drank from the garden hose, swam in the pond wearing cut-off jean shorts, roasted marshmallows over a campfire and put a baseball card (1955 Roberto Clemente now worth $432,690) in our bicycle tire to make it sound cool.”
As we continued recalling the good ole days, our conversation was cut short when his cell phone rang, and he answered it.
Technology has completely taken over our lives. No matter where we are or where we go, we can’t seem to take our eyes off our cell phones and smartwatches. However, technology is not the problem; we are the problem. We decide whether or not technology should be in our lives. We can choose how much time we want to spend on devices in the first place. We have just grown overly dependent on them. Recall that my friend decided to answer his smartphone instead of continuing our conversation. We can determine whether we want to answer calls, check emails or messages and play video games. We have the control, but unfortunately, we have lost that control.
The more advanced we get in technology, the lazier we become. More and more children would rather stay inside and play video games than go outside. The NFL is a great example of an entity that identified the problem and launched PLAY 60. The goal of the program is to get children physically active for 60 minutes a day all year long. Growing up in our neighborhood, we had our own program. It was called, PLAY TILL MOM CALLS YOU IN. From the time we woke up in the morning until we were dragged inside at night, we played wiffle ball, hide and seek, capture the flag, four square and hopscotch, jumped rope and rode bicycles.
“Are you next?” For those of you familiar with my “Nikki the Bank Teller” story, this was the notorious question a teller whipped at me with an irritation in her voice that shook my core. That incident took place over twelve years ago, and the level of service everywhere is only getting worse. According to a survey from the Hay Group, 80 percent of employers are having trouble-locating graduates with soft skills to balance their other assets: technical skills and a good education.
Our communication is getting to the point where people barely have face-to-face conversations, and it is causing a shortage of employees. From the airlines to the hospitality industry, technology is affecting our social and interpersonal skills. It leads to a decrease in reading and critical thinking, and when you text, half the meaning is lost. Studies show that kids are more antisocial and afraid to start regular conversations. So, are you just going to keep checking your phone every five seconds, or are you going realize the damage new technology is causing?
Millennials suffer from a failure to communicate. Incorrect! All generations suffer from a failure to communicate. Soft skills, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, are personal attributes that enable someone to interact harmoniously with other people. And most industries—from engineering and finance to health care, information technology and sales—actually have one soft skill at the top of their lists: communication.
In addition to communication, companies are looking for others. Organization, writing, leadership, problem solving and customer service are all highly desirable in almost every occupation.
At the 2018 SHRM Conference, 83 percent of human resource directors surveyed said graduates who couldn’t get up to speed quickly on the job and develop emotional and social skills would not become high performers. Employers want to hire people who can communicate effectively and work well with others.
The Next Big Thing
We can blame technology, or we can acknowledge that technology isn’t taking away all our time; our preoccupation with technology is. While we continue to recollect the bygone days, we also continue to think about what the next wave of technology will bring.
The impact of technology on society is undeniable. Technology and science have played a central role in human history and help shape entire civilizations. Technological progress was vital for the emergence and downfall of empires. The development of hunting and farming tools allowed our ancestors to dominate other hominid species. The invention of the wheel and writing, as well as the introduction of metal tools and weapons, were other landmarks in the history of technology.
However, technology is altering our lifestyle and will forever change the cognitive and social development of current and future generations.
Regardless of your age or what side of the fence you are on regarding this issue, the fact is that technology is causing more and more people to be stressed, distracted and isolated. So, the next time you’re frustrated with a person talking loud on their cell phone in a restaurant, you’re speaking with someone and they read and respond to a message on their watch, or you get criticized on Facebook, remember when…