If I had a dollar for every time one of my professors, family members or family friends said this generation is full of completely inept communicators, I wouldn’t be extraordinarily wealthy, but I could buy several packs of peanut butter M&Ms each week.
Seriously, at least two or three times a week, I hear members of older generations say we are so enamored with technology that we have completely forgotten how to be effective communicators.
In fact, I cannot tell you how many times my peers and I have been told we need to engage in “real” face-to-face conversations, as if we completely ignore people and the world around us.
Frankly, I can’t help but feel as if that assumption is completely off-point.
I’m not denying that millennials are almost always “plugged in” to some form of technology. About 85 percent of us own smartphones—although I’m still carrying around my basic calls-and-texts-only phone, and I am thankful for this every time I drop it and it remains unharmed.
Most of us, myself included, also partake in some form of social media and engage in it multiple times a day.
And yes, it is discouraging to walk around the dining hall and see groups of people sitting together while on their phones, this does not mean we are incapable of having conversations with each other, our parents and our professors.
In my personal experience, technology has brought me closer to so many people.
As someone in a committed relationship with someone who lives nearly an hour away, texting and phone calls allow us to keep in contact when we aren’t able to see each other.
Facebook instant messenger has allowed me to keep in constant contact with my best friend in the world, who I’ve only been able to see once or twice a year since we graduated from high school.
Social media and cell phones have also allowed me to keep in contact with my older sister, who moved to Kentucky for college almost ten years ago and has since been married and has had two daughters who I see twice a year face-to-face at best. I get to see pictures of her family all throughout the year, which allows me to see my nieces grow up in between visits.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying technology and social media are at all adequate replacements for face-to-face contact.
However, when these are used as a supplement, they can become a useful aid in communicating.
Also, although millennials may actively use these technologies throughout a day, it does not mean we are unable to communicate with others around us.
Sure, some people feel as if they have no better way to spend all of their free time than refreshing Twitter or scrolling through Pinterest, but they are an extremely miniscule minority.
When used responsibly, social media and technologies complement face-to-face communications. They can connect us to people who are otherwise unavailable to us, and honestly I believe that is a marvel.
In all, previous generations need not worry about the communication capabilities of most millennials.
Just because we can check Facebook, watch Netflix, send an email and talk on the phone at one time does not mean we can thrive without person-to-person human contact.
And millennials: connect responsibly.