When people express concern about how smartphones are damaging our young people, I laugh. This anxiety that the internet is going to ruin real human interactions is reminiscent of parents in the 50s who were worried that Elvis shaking his hips was the devil. Let’s be very clear here. Being concerned about cultural progression “damaging us as a society” always repeats itself with the current trend and will continue to play itself out again and again and again.
Millennials are no different from Gen Y, Gen X, or any previous generation when it comes to being affected by a culture shift. In the 1940s, people had their heads in the newspaper and theirs ears to the radio. By the 60s, it was the TV. What about everyone today on their laptop and smartphones at a Starbucks? See what I’m getting at?
What’s happening with technology in our culture and society is just evolution. Technology is not undermining real human interactions. Instead, it is exposing people for who they really are. I have been asked many times, “What are we teaching the young people?” I’ve watched the behavior of 14 year old girls spending 10 minutes to take the best selfie, post it on Instagram, and then take it down when it doesn’t get enough likes. This superficial behavior tends to concern pundits who think that technology is the cause of this appearance driven, attention seeking behavior in teenagers. But the thing is, teenagers have always strived to be liked and sought the attention of their peers and potential significant others. Selfies on Instagram is the evolution of this same behavior.