Today’s society is overreliant on technology, according to 59% of millennials surveyed for an October 2013 study commissioned by Intel Corporation. A slightly higher percentage—61%—reported technology makes people less human. Depressing, right?
What’s even more depressing is that the realization of this notion doesn’t necessarily mean millennials are interested in curbing their dependence on technology. Eighty-six percent said they believe technology innovation makes life simpler. That ease that technology provides seems to overrule any feelings of dependence. Think about it. When was the last time you saw someone under the age of 30 truly eating alone? And by that I mean completely unaccompanied; without the bright light of an iPhone or Kindle to provide comfort during what many consider to be a bleak dining experience. Most people don’t like to sit and eat alone, and engaging with content on a screen is an easy fix.
What’s interesting is millennials’ perceptions of how technology affects their personal relationships. The Intel study found that 69% of millennials believe technology enhances these connections. Now, how could this be if approximately two-thirds of my peers report that technology “makes people less human”? You’d think that if we are becoming “less human,” personal relationships would be suffering. But not really. As a millennial, I absolutely hate talking on the phone and listening to voicemails. I couldn’t even give you a legitimate reason why, but at this very moment, I have 15 voicemail notifications on my iPhone, some dating as far back as August 2013. Provided that it’s nothing urgent, I’d rather someone send me a text or an email so I can respond in my own way in my own time. Millennials’ preferences to communicate via text has led to the decline of voice-to-voice and face-to-face communication in their personal and professional lives, thus making “people less human.” But that same ability to shoot a quick text or email to a friend or loved one allows people to keep in touch on the go, thereby enhancing personal relationships. It’s a beautiful thing.
Looking ahead, a significant portion of millennials wouldn’t mind if we took things one step further with technology to make life easier. One-third reported to Intel that they think technology should recognize them by learning more about their behaviors and preferences. Eek! Personally, the mere thought of companies knowing even more about my behaviors and preferences than they already do freaks me out, but to each his or her own.