Recently I have had a number of interactions with recent college graduates. The education background ranged from techies to social workers. They are all technology saavy and think quite highly of themselves. As I reflected on my interactions something really struck me as odd. Most of them do not seem to have a sense of humor. The trend I am seeing concerns me. What is driving this? Is it simply the people I interact with? Is it coicidence? Is the sampling too small? Is this a classic techno-geek issue? Or, is it just me?
I don't think it is any of these things. I believe the culprit is technology. Social technology to be exact. This new generation of workers has been on the leading edge of the social media craze. They started with instant messaging, moved up to email, then on to Facebook and Twitter. Mix in a good dose of texting and I think you have a recipe for a problem.
Now, don't get me wrong. I too am a texting, tweeting, emailing machine. The difference is that I didn't start there. I started by having to talk to people......with my voice. There is nothing like the inflection of one's voice to get a point across or add levity to a discussion. Texting and Facebook simply don't do that. Sure, I can add a winking emoticon or two but it simply isn't the same. Today's trend is for short bursts of conversation (limited to 140-160 characters as in texting and Twitter respectively). The sharing of stories is getting lost in all of this. The conversation is short and to the point. The emotion is missing. The use of sarcasm all but dead. The quick comeback - gone.
Technology is a wonderful thing. I make my living thanks to technology. I have a passion for everything technology. However, we have to understand some of the implications that our technology can bring (let's not even start talking about every regime out there now flying their own drones). When the guy who created Facebook did so to help with his own social shortcomings, what do you end up with? A generation of people who have learned how to communicate from the technology created by an introvert. Not good.