When you walk down the street there’s one thing you’re going to see without a doubt, and that’s a millennial looking down at their phone.
Whether they’re ordering an Uber, texting, scrolling through social feeds, online shopping, or freaking out about the news… the majority of 20somesthings have grown up in a generation that doesn’t know how to look up.
There are devastating statistics about this and a real loss of human connection. We don’t talk to each other anymore unless it’s through a screen. In truth, we avoid face to face interactions, or keep them to a minimum, for tons of seemingly standard situations…
1. Ordering food
I am guilty of being one of those people that sometimes just does not want to leave her apartment or speak to a human being. The rise of convenient food delivery options has escalated our simple interactions as well as the joys of going out to eat with friends/family versus ordering in. There are even restaurants where you don’t have to interact with anyone at all — although I’d also likely be guilty of trying one.
2. Renting movies
I remember the good ol’ days when going to Blockbuster and picking out a movie was the best part of the weekend. Roaming the aisles for just the right selection was thrilling. Now, we have hundreds of thousands of streaming options but no interaction or camaraderie involved. It’s now just “Netflix and chill” while scrolling through Instagram vs. what used to be an experience all on its own.
3. Customer service
We’re in the age of digital screens versus cashiers and receptionists. We’re also in the age of robots answering our calls versus real people — no matter how many times you say “representative.” Although, some companies are offering helpful services like texting their customers, while other companies (i.e. certain airlines) only offer customer service via an online claims form with absolutely no phone number to speak to a real person.
4. Hanging out
When was the last time you went to brunch or dinner or a party, and no one whipped out their phone? Sure, cabs need to be ordered and pictures need to be taken. But Facebook is also being updated, texts are coming in, and our mindless routine takes afoot no matter the size of the group we’re in. It’s a habit, even in public and among friends. While “hanging out” used to literally be just hanging out, we’re less likely to have the attention span to do so.
I will forever dream that I’ll meet my soulmate spontaneously on a train or in line for coffee. But the reality is, a good portion of our dating lives are now purely on a screen. The amount of time it takes to swipe, make connections, small talk — by the time you actually meet… you would’ve wasted hours of repetitive conversations and snap judgements. Where did the romance go? Although, the digital world isn’t all bad – because imagine being the person from this Craigslist missed connections ad.
6. Online shopping
Retail stores are dying and it’s in part to the online shopping trend. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the last time I went to the store to try something on in person. With the rise of subscription box services and with free shipping, it’s rare that folks will go to a brick and mortar store if they can have something delivered to their home. But if you think about it, where’s the fun in that??
Now, I won’t paint a black cloud over our generation’s accessibility to technology. Sure, there are more occasions that we are preoccupied within our iPhones. However, elements like ordering cabs on Uber and sending money on Venmo truly make our lives easier and more efficient so we have more time for in-person connections.
It’s definitely not all aspects of our lives, but maybe it’s just a matter of remembering that we need these connections. We need to talk to strangers — who knows what their stories are. We need to talk to our families — they lived beyond this new digital world and have lessons to teach. We need to talk to our friends — because being tagged in a picture isn’t the same as being counted on.
So, just venture outside a little more. Make conversation with the barista. Go on a date in person before stalking them. Put your phone away when you’re out with friends. Just try it, because the connections you make and things that happen may just surprise you.