Generation Digital – Where is Human Interaction Heading?

Ani Jigarjian

I think we can all agree that a great deal has changed and evolved over the last few years. Yes, we can also assume that digital everything leads this charge and is continually changing the way, and how fast, we think and react. In the midst of this rapidly changing world, I don’t think we stop and soak in just how much is changing, and how much work we have ahead of us – work that will define generations to come.

Thanks to Twitter, we are increasingly communicating with fewer than 140 characters to spare. Whether its news speeding through continents in real time or PR pros communicating and reaching journalists instantly, we are relying more and more on Twitter as a means of communicating. I also seem to find entertainment within this medium, as I find myself viewing the Twitter feeds more than actually watching the Presidential debates. Hashtag usage has also become a part of our culture, and we use it to end many of our sentences. #noendinsight.

Thanks to Facebook, companies can showcase their cultures to prospective employees. A website is great, but Facebook is a medium that allows you to communicate on a daily basis, what your company is really like. And it’s much easier to update (and get approval) than a website is, right? Not to mention how we use (or overuse) Facebook in our personal lives – which you should always be extremely cautious about (that photo of you doing a keg stand at the homecoming game should not be your profile pic).

LinkedIn…the quiet site that was always considered kinda boring. Well, not anymore. After being in a bit of stealth mode, yet used by professionals for many years, this medium has proven to be a must for all of us in the working world. It serves as an online resume, and we can also see who takes an interest in viewing our profiles (oh come on, just admit that you love to see who’s viewed your profile). It’s easy to update our skills or ask for a reference to strengthen your online resume. A prospective client or employer can get more of a feel for who you are vs. a boring paper resume. The company has made a lot of recent changes and they continue to get bigger.

Apps – everything seems to be available on an app. I need to know what the weather’s going to be like this weekend. How many calories are in this granola bar? I need to reload my Starbucks account. Let me pull up the driving directions to the restaurant…

There are many other mediums that we use on a daily basis. What did we do, professionally and individually, before these incredible innovations came into our lives? The world of digital has allowed us to do many great things. But that also means that we’re always ‘connected.’ We can access any of these sites any time we want – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And that’s what we do. Many of us are on each of these sites multiple times every day (we’re even ashamed to admit we access these sites when we’re on vacation – during family time). I could probably go an entire day without lifting my head from my iPhone. So, I’m guilty as charged. But I know I need to start changing my habits. Dare I say it’s an addiction? Or has it simply become second nature? I remember the days of making fun of people with a “CrackBerry.” That now seems like SO long ago.

So do you wonder what the next generation is going to be like? I’ve observed some interesting behavior in recent years that concerns me. There are a handful of younger people I’ve initially met online (cousins, or college students I worked with while I was a TA at a university, etc.), some on Twitter, others on Facebook; and they appear to be so upbeat and social. However, once I meet these individuals in person, they’re timid and unable to hold a conversation. OR I know the individual and I see a completely different side of them via these mediums. There’s also the question of impatience. Everything is available so quickly, that if something takes a few seconds longer than it should, most of us are up in arms about it. My main concern is that the next generation is more comfortable communicating online than in person. Is this going to get worse? How do we go about drawing the line for ourselves and our children? The world will continue to get savvier with technology every day, so it’s up to us to teach our future leaders when enough is enough. In my opinion, this is a crisis communications project that needs to be scooped up ASAP.

Do you agree? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Tweet me at @anispartan!

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