“Kids these days spend all their time on their phones.”
“Social media is making everyone antisocial.”
“Millenials don’t know how to talk to each other anymore.”
Photo: Joshua Ness on Unsplash
Stereotyping millennials for their lack of social skills has been a hobby for other generations since the introduction of smartphones and Instagram alike. Those who grew up before the age of social media criticize this generation for allegedly destroying the art of conversation.
But did they really?
To debunk this misconception, we must take it back to the original motivation for the creation of social media.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were not created to isolate people. In reality, they were created to allow people to make connections with those they otherwise would not.
Somewhere along the way, this original concept warped.
It may be true that millennials do spend more time talking to people on their phones than in person. But isn’t this still a form of positive conversation, even if it is digital?
Apps like Instagram that allow users to portray themselves in any way they choose give users the freedom to have an online identity, as well as in person. Despite many opinions, this can be both good and bad.
Social media can connect people across the globe. It has the capability to bring together people of all sorts of cultures, nationalities, and lifestyles.
It can be just as easily argued that the technology involved in the everyday lives of millenials allows an entire generation to extend conversation, continuing discussions beyond times when they are together in person.
However, that doesn’t mean that we should be relying on technology as our only mode of communication. A report commissioned by a technology company, LivePerson, found that 65% of millennial and generation z individuals interact with each other through phones and apps more than in person.
Just because phones allow us to extend our networking circle and participate in more conversations digitally does not mean we should close ourselves off from real world interactions.
So, how can we find a balance between in person conversation and communication through our phones?
As the world changes, it makes sense that our interactions would as well. However, making the time for face to face conversation should still be prioritized. Put down the phones when you are at dinner with friends. Talk to those who sit around you at work. Go out with your girls, and don’t worry about taking pictures for the gram!
Bringing back the art of conversation and real life interaction does not mean throwing away your cell phone. Technology gives us the groundbreaking opportunity to make connections with those we otherwise would not be able to. Social media lets us keep in touch with anyone and everyone we want to. Those are valuable capabilities that should not be diminished by stereotypes and a few negative points.
So, is the art of conversation being lost in the millennial generation?
Maybe, maybe not.
More importantly, the fact is that this generation has the ability to network and communicate more broadly than ever. Social media doesn’t need to be all bad. In fact, when used correctly, the positive intentions of today’s technology can greatly outweigh the negative consequences.
Caroline is an undergraduate student at Worcester State University. When she is not writing, she also runs a photography business specializing in portrait, wedding, and boudoir photography. She aims to use both writing and photography to empower women and encourage them to find their inner voice and confidence.