Technology’s tumultuous tornado shows no signs of terminating and logically never will. Technology’s rate of change has been increasing exponentially and will continue to do so. However, in reflecting on this change over the past few decades, some observations stand out for us as a society. The first observation is purely what I have stated—the rate of change.
To recap from yesterday, prior to the personal computer revolution, we still experienced change. The change we experienced was spread over longer time periods and generations. This translated to certain practical applications in our daily business world and general societal life. Everything, literally and metaphorically, moved slower. This slower pace of change affected how we did business and how we lived. It affected how we handled change and how we related to each other.
Today, I offer an additional observation—Technology’s tumultuous tornado is precisely why we need mentors today more than we ever have. This tumultuous technology tornado has radically affected how we work and communicate with each other. It has affected how we relate to each other.
I have become aware of several studies that have identified an inverse correlation between millennials’ use of social media and their interpersonal communication skills. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that just because you are a millennial that you therefore have poor interpersonal communication skills. Many millennials have outstanding interpersonal communication skills. However, it cannot be denied that a correlation exists and that in most cases the more that a millennial is immersed in the online world the more his or her interpersonal communication skills suffer.
Emotional intelligence (EI) tracks similarly. Recently, an experiment was conducted on a college campus in which everyone stopped using their smartphones for a week or two. During that time, EI scores increased. This corresponds with my personal observations that many millennials have somehow lost the art of looking a person in the eye, of giving a good firm handshake, and of displaying empathy.
The above trends have not been displayed in the past. These are trends that are unique to the current constellation of demographic, technological, and societal factors. We have never before been in this positon. We are now.
This is why I say that we need mentors today more than we ever have in the past. Throughout history, mentors have always been important. In addition to all the traditional, proven reasons why mentoring is important, today we add to them all these new technology induced ill-effects upon our interpersonal communication skills. We have an entire generation coming up—and more beyond it—that may need to become reacquainted with the art of conversation and relationship.
I love millennials. I think that they are one of the most interesting demographic segments today. They offer so much and their future promise is so great. However, we all owe it to their generation to be available for mentorship opportunities wherever they might arise. Some of the most profound communication, leadership, and relationship lessons I have ever learned arrived via a mentor. Surely, we can “return the favor.”
Tomorrow, in Part Three, I will look at another individual item that we should analyze so that we genuinely keep our heads while in the midst of this tumultuous technology tornado.