The BBC article: The Crucial Skill New Hires Lack, argues that the lack of face-to-face communication due to the online milieu, makes new hires “ill-prepared to collaborate effectively with teammates and develop relationships with client.” Is this surprising?
This isn’t the first we have heard that excessive social media, twitter, texting, gaming, etc., damages interpersonal skills and development. It reminds me of a situation where I sat next to my 14 year old brother who was texting someone in the same room. REALLY? I have heard the argument that maybe someone is too shy to talk to someone else in person, or maybe texting gives them confidence and reassurance of creating a forum free from conflict. Whatever the case, the article argues that the basic skill of having a conversation is lost on the late 80s and early 90s generation.
The Star Tribune article Social Media: too much of a good thing? talks about a high school video production teacher who conducted a social experiment, challenging his students not to use electronic devices for one week. The article indicates that the majority of students opted out and/or gave up in the middle of the week. The teacher also noted that even his colleagues/peers found it hard to commit to the challenge.
I remember reading an end of times book where the ‘bad guys’ dropped a bomb, completely taking out all electronics. As the author went through the scenario, I began thinking about how dependent we are on technology. In fact, my apartment building experienced a power outage during a storm last year. While I felt it was liberating for a day, my roommates voiced their consternation every 15 minutes about not being able to check their email, cook food, and go about their lives. I found it to be tiring after a couple of days also, since having received notice not to use our tap water because the water plant also experienced an outage, and the water wasn’t being filtered. Our preparedness was lacking, and we realized we didn’t have tablets to purify the water, and we didn’t have the technology to boil our water. We also weren’t allowed to start a campfire to boil our water in our apartment complex. This story demonstrates our reliance on technology and lack of survival skills due to that reliance.
As another demonstrable point of reliance on technology, I find it funny that when I don’t answer my phone right away, or someone leaves a message and I get back to them at the end of the day, they are perturbed that it took me SO long to respond. Long ago I decided that I didn’t want to be connected to my phone all the time, hence why I left the communications biz. I also realize that in order for me to get a leg up in the world, I might have to be connected all the time. But what if I want peace from technology? I digress.
The article claims that people who are hired have necessary social interaction skills. It is important to step away from technology to see if informative decisions can be made. It is important to step away from technology to see what kind of leader or influence can be had in social settings. Am I suggesting that everyone should live a life devoid of technology? No, that is not the point.
My point is: people should step away from technology long enough to realize that technology should be used to enhance rather than own interpersonal communication and existing relationships.