I will do more than 80 events this year, most of them at schools. At these campuses, I will often host informal focus groups to allow students to weigh in on the issues that are front and center in their lives.
I will tell these students that by the year 2028, it is very possible that someone from their generation will be elected president of the United States. Certainly by the year 2040 their generation will likely be running the country and most businesses in it, too. This is both exciting and frightening to me. I believe this generation hungers to transform the world, yet at the same time, I wonder if there has ever been a generation that’s been led more poorly or prepared more pitifully. Let’s just project twenty years for a moment, to the year 2030. The following are my concerns for today’s young person, and how they may affect that person at midlife.
1. The dependence on external stimulation instead of internal motivation.
Our media rich world today never shuts off. There is stimulation 24/7. We have the TV on, we are online with YouTube or updating our Facebook profile, and we’re receiving tweets and texts at all hours. We have our cell phone with us all the time. Students have this virus worse than adults. An athletic coach recently told me he can’t get his players to work out without their cell phone. It has produced a world that artificially stimulates us. Students rarely experience a world of silence. There is little time to reflect on their own. There’s always noise. They stay connected. I am concerned that students now need outside stimulation to move them to act. Most depend on something external to drive them. What will happen if that stimulation isn’t present, and young people must get motivated from the inside out? I purposely go days without turning on the TV or radio simply to maintain my inward sense of motivation. I want to be able to act passionately because of the drive inside of me, not the stimuli outside. We must find a way to build this into students.
What if adults talked this issue over with their young person, employee, athlete, or student and resolved to no longer be a slave to stimulation? One idea to help resolve the issue is to mutually agree to limit “noise time.” For instance, spend only one hour a day on a video game or on Facebook. Or, power down all technology for face-to-face conversation or to read a book. What if 15 minutes of car time was in silence, providing time to think and preview the day. What if you challenged them to do a ratio — for every hour connected with technology, they must spend one hour organically with people or with a book, to write in a journal or take a walk.
What are your thoughts?