If you live long enough (and it doesn’t have to be that long) you’ll hear older people start a story or life lesson with “back in my day” or “when we were growing up”. Inevitably, eyes will begin to roll upward and cups will need to be refilled. Somehow, the last generation was always better than this one (I think it has something to do with walking to school barefoot, uphill both ways).
However, the gap between the current generation and its parents and grandparents has gotten even bigger than before due to this generation gap landslide. As information and technology exploded, the gap between the generations grew proportionately. Of course, the whole thing is still up for debate, but the predominant theory is that this difference in lifestyle, ability to deal with delayed gratification and general exodus from functionality that we once considered necessary might be less nature and more nurture.
Author and marketing consultant Simon O. Sinek provides a glimpse into what might be going on in the millennial brain.
I’m not all about millennial bashing, partly because I am one. What I am all about is arming people with the information they need to be better. Maybe that’s information about someone else, and maybe that’s information about ourselves, so we can combat our natural instincts in these areas and become the most productive individuals possible.
I think many of you are probably wondering how bad this technology rush really is. Well, as it turns out, the human attention span has declined to the extent that they’re now comparing it to that of a common household pet.
There’s a breakdown in a Time article aptly named You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish:
Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds.
“Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media,” the report read.
On the positive side, the report says our ability to multitask has drastically improved in the mobile age.
Microsoft theorized that the changes were a result of the brain’s ability to adapt and change itself over time and a weaker attention span may be a side effect of evolving to a mobile Internet.
Our ability to multi-task has gone up, but there’s an argument to be made that the things we’re doing aren’t actually worth doing. We’re better educated, in general, and yet we’re less employable, not growing strong relationships, we’re not producing more and we’re not healthier. Technology was supposed to make our lives easier and give us more time to do the important things, and yet we’re still missing the mark.
Someone asked the question on an open forum what people thought would be the most difficult thing for someone from the 50’s to understand about the world today. Far and away the best answer was:
“I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers.”
Advancements may have given us more time, but they haven’t given us common sense for what to do with that time. And as was pointed out in the video “there ain’t no app for that.”