As a Millennial, I am constantly running into the problem of people thinking I’m more tech savvy than I am. Sorry, employers and professors, but the extent of my InDesign knowledge is adding a text box. And don’t even bother asking about HTML. Even beyond overestimated technology knowledge, however, is overestimated technology enthusiasm. Millennials are typecast as a generation of smartphone-loving, social media-addicted techies, both in and out of the workplace. Some of us are, to be sure—but a lot of us aren’t.
Jobs in social media and computer science are everywhere, and they’re in high demand. But many of my classmates want to work in print media or medicine or business, just like always, and they want to have face-to-face conversations and relationships with the people around them. I’m constantly talking to my friends about how phone use has gone too far.
It’s not just me, either. Publications such as USA Today and OZY Magazine have reported on the phenomenon of young people’s technology burnout. Cornerstone OnDemand’s 2013 “Workplace Productivity Report” also found that 58 percent of Millennials feel overloaded in today’s workplace, 38 percent of whom cited technology as a reason. A study mentioned in the USA Today article went so far as to say that 61 percent of young adults feel like technology is “dehumanizing.” After years of rabidly embracing technology-driven communication, it seems that the younger generation might be over it.
That doesn’t change the fact, though, that technology is an integral part of today’s work environment, and that simply unplugging isn’t really an option. Emails must be checked, calls must be answered and social media must be updated.
So what’s a tech-ed out Millenial to do? The answer could lie in not letting tech become dehumanizing anymore. Technology is incredibly helpful when it comes to getting work done and being accessible and efficient, but it can’t take the place of human connections and relationships.
Even if it just means picking up the phone or—crazy thought—walking over to a co-worker’s desk instead of shooting her an IM, the best thing we can do might be to recognize that human interaction is a good thing, and a thing that technology can never replace. Technology is exciting, but relationships endure.
Connect with Jamie on Twitter @JamieDucharme1.