Communication’s evolution over generations


If the bread is uncooked you usually blame the baker, not the bread. The same should go for any baby boomers who groan that the millenniums are lazy, have subpar personal skills or are entitled. It should be taken into consideration that maybe the bread had to go through challenges that bread in the past had never even considered.

For instance, a common complaint about my generation is that our interpersonal skills have deteriorated as time has gone on. However, when someone makes this assumption they don’t consider all the angles.

In this present day, teenagers are confronted with a much higher range of problems than any generation before us. Maybe some of these problems are self-created and a mere indicator that we actually are egotistical, but some are only a reflection that we do indeed have more adversity to overcome as 21st century adults.

All of our forms of communication have been broadened. 50 plus years ago, there were really only three ways to interact and two immediate ones: letters, telephone (if you were wealthy enough to have one) and face-to-face communication.

Because of this, the baby boomers and Generation X were forced into more human contact than today’s teens. If I wanted to talk to my friend, I could send an email or text message, Snapchat, post on Instagram, direct message on Twitter, Facebook chat, call, FaceTime or hold a Skype conversation. The possibilities are endless.

I guess I could always physically meet them in person too, which obviously is something teens today do – but because of technology, our modes of contact have heightened in a sense, but they have also depleted.

Smart phones and computers have enabled us to abandon the immediate reality that our words retain. Quite simply witnessing and reacting to the response that your comment evokes on another is a process that is skipped with most forms of online conversation.

To some degree, this is much of the reason for cyberbullying. People don’t have to physically stand behind their words anymore, which can and does create a hostile internet environment.

While these newer facets of interaction have some drawbacks, they have also enabled us to jolt further as a society.

Take online dating websites or just social media in general. Prior to their creation, there was only one real form of meeting people: through human contact – either by chance or through an introduction like a mutual friend or class.

People who would’ve never met each other otherwise have often found a common ground on the Internet, making friendships and having human contact that is beneficial to them daily.

While older generations scorn us for our Internet addiction, inversely we laugh at them for their incompetence with it.

Because of technology, almost every institution likened with communication and education has had to at least reconsider or completely alter facets of their policies.

When this generation starts hiring people for jobs, they will definitely consider their interviewees’ Internet aptitude.

With the rise of technological communication, new job opportunities have immersed. In fact, jobs pertaining to the Internet and media have started to multiply.

Take for example a publication. 20 years ago, they wouldn’t have to worry about things like their website or online image and presence. Now, some publications like the Huffington Post have an entire section of social media people on their editorial staff, with another staff for blogs, video and multimedia among others – an entire plethora of jobs that wouldn’t have otherwise existed have been created. Almost every company I’ve come into contact with recently has some sort of online presence.

I’ve even witnessed that small scale, family-owned businesses put effort into how they are perceived online. A shoe store that just started up in the mall offered me 15 percent off of my entire purchase if I went and ‘followed’ them on Instagram.

Another time, a new restaurant in town pleaded that I go and review them on Yelp. Yelp is an app that rates businesses and attractions near you that many people use to form an opinion about where to take their money.

Before apps like Yelp, businesses had to rely on the spoken word of customers. Now, online reviews can dictate a company’s success.

So, while my generation might be glued to our phones, the very things that we are attached to have inversely created opportunities and changed the playing field of communication as a whole.