Lily Van is a Senior Social Media Specialist at Signet. She has experience managing multiple digital media accounts and various roles in marketing. She loves music and attending festivals, dance, and most importantly, food. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.
Millennials + Technology: The Good, the Bad and the Awkward
Millennials - critics have scrutinized this generation from many angles in recent times, with varying conclusions. Narcissistic, demanding, and lazy seem to be common. Although these characteristics may speak some truth, they do not tell the whole story. One thing is for certain, Millennials have been immersed in technology practically since infancy. They have been raised in the midst of skyrocketing technological advances. I still remember as a child, a friend’s mother saying, “I wish that there was a way you could talk to your phone and it writes the text for you.” Over ten years later, this feature has become a staple in smartphones.
So how does technology impact millennials?
With nearly everything going digital and rapid technological progressions, adaptation is crucial. For millennials, this skill comes instinctively given their exposure to gadgets and smartphones. You see this in the workplace among interactions with Generation X and Baby Boomers. Previous generations often seek the assistance of millennials for training on untapped features and shortcuts, on both personal and professional levels. Trainings are executed, and sometimes these processes come easier for the younger generation. This kind of humbling collaboration can build a stronger, more dynamic team.
In my current internship, it’s not uncommon for me to get questions like: “How do you set this up?” “Can you help me manage MY Twitter account?” and “That feature exists? ! I had NO idea!”
Rationally, I get that not everyone understands things unanimously, but experiencing this in the workplace was initially an eye-opener for me. Ultimately, this technology/generational gap offers a learning opportunity for everyone, and sometimes we just have to laugh about it. It’s created a light-hearted environment and open communication throughout our staff. There is no segregation or judgment – we just accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses and do our best to help each other out.
Having access to technology has also enabled me to be more productive and prompt. I can contact whomever–coworkers or peers–I need to from any device. I can access documents wherever I am. Multitasking is easier and deliverables are timely. Without resources like WiFi or laptops or tablets, I would be forced to be in-office or on-campus. Or worse, I would have to use the U.S. Postal Service to mail documents– is this honestly daunting? For someone who is used to efficiency, yes. In my personal opinion, technology is simply a wonderful thing.
Instant gratification is also frequently linked with millennials. Because the internet and society’s beloved Google is just a quick search away on any device, it is so easy to have an immediate answer. With this instant gratification comes impatience and boredom. However, there also comes curiosity and a strong yearning to learn. Those qualities result in a drive for accomplishment and the ability to multitask. Having multiple devices and the internet allows the ability to solve problems quickly and uncover new perspectives. The accessibility to a vast amount of information means this generation gains more knowledge more quickly than any generation before.
A downfall to this technology immersion is impaired interpersonal skills. Although millennials are more globally accepting (thanks to multiple social media outlets), it can be hard for them to connect to the individual standing five feet away from them. Constantly hiding behind a device, whether it’s a computer, tablet, or mobile phone, has hindered a social skill that previous generations have mastered. Millennials will strategize what they post to create a certain perspective on how they are perceived on social media. Rather than having real-life conversations, they provide virtual snippets of their lives. Can millennials improve these interpersonal skills? Like most things, yes. However, it does not come as naturally as it has in the past.
At the end of the day, the intimate relationship between millennials and technology is permanent. Having a generation that has been surrounded by technology has its pros and cons, but each generation brings something different. Despite the negative connotations associated with millennials, technology highlights new positives.