Yesterday, I examined a handful of positive outcomes we’ve enjoyed as a result of our new world filled with technology. We can connect faster with people and information than at any time in our past. Today—I want to cover the downside. Generation iY may or may not see the unintended outcomes of the Web 2.0 world. This is where caring adults must interpret the negatives, and nurture healthy use of social media. Some of the unhealthy results of this new world are:
1. No quiet time for thinking.
I am deeply concerned about this. There is precious little time in our world for thoughtful reflection. We not only have noise everywhere we go, but today that noise beckons us to interact with it. It is magnetic and addictive. Where do our young people go to experience quiet, private solitude to make sense of the noise and to choose where they must say “no” to all the cries for their attention? Very few of us (young or old) do much thinking for ourselves. Someone else does it and tells us what to think.
2. Emotional intelligence is down.
One of the greatest needs in Generation iY is emotional intelligence, which is the sum total of their self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Why are self-awareness and people skills low? We can delete, block, or log off anytime we don’t like a conversation. Teens who want to break up with a boyfriend, can do it on a text. No skills required. We don’t see what’s happening to us because we feel so “social” but in reality we are getting poorer at people skills.
3. Our self-sufficiency is evaporating.
Because we’re in constant contact with answers, we fail to build any sense of self-sufficiency to solve a problem ourselves. Or…wait on a solution very long. We are used to quick solutions and instant gratification. I wonder if we have an unhealthy dependency on technology. Don’t get me wrong. I love technology. But if it diminishes my ability to be responsible to solve my own problems or take the time to figure things out on my own, it is a mixed blessing at best.
4. Our privacy is diminished.
Due to our over-connection, our sense of personal privacy is lacking. We share everything on our tweets or Facebook page. And we know all about others because they do the same thing. This may not sound devastating, but I believe a lasting, healthy public life is built upon a robust, healthy private life, where I get my bearings and sort out my values. Throughout history, lasting leaders possessed this quality. Today, it is almost non-existent.
As you consider how to lead the young people in your life, be counter-cultural. Embrace their connections, but allow time for personal development. Challenge them to disconnect enough to grow personally. Encourage them to take time for solitude and reflection. Then, when they’re out with people, provide time for face-to-face community. This can be contagious too. It isn’t too late for them to catch a new infection.