There is a video doing the rounds in which author Simon Sinek attempts to answer 'The Millennial Question'.
He talks about the problems of those reaching adulthood since the turn of the century, like an inability to form meaningful relationships or work hard, impatience for outcomes and career development, entitlement for benefits and lax working conditions, and low self-esteem.
Most of his argument boils down to modern technology being the underlying cause.
Sinek’s thesis is a reselling of a very old idea: that new technology irreparably damages youth. The theory goes that new technologies impede young people from fitting into society as we know it, and thereby devolve the world to an irreversible state of misery, laziness and narcissism. Sad to say folks, but we have heard it all before.
Half a century ago, it was television and rock and roll which were the phantom menace set to create a generation of lazy and unintelligent drones who would never achieve in life. That generation went on to remote-control robots on Mars, crack the human genome and reduce the computer in size to fit on the edge of a coin, among other achievements.
Before TV, it was radio that was the clear and present danger that risked the youth’s ability to appreciate the written word and concentrate. Before that, the printing press was a threat to speech and conversation that would overwhelm all people with too much information rendering them immune to the pulpit. I’m hoping this is starting to sound familiar.
Technology makes the world seem different and scary to those who knew the world before it. But then, within a generation or so, the teething problems pass, the kinks are worked out.
Eventually something new arrives that is a threat to that established norm, which only a few years back seemed such an ominous threat.
The internet is not some great social nullifier set to annihilate basic human interaction. What the internet does do, like TV and radio and the telephone, is magnify our ability to observe human behaviour. Making the world appear smaller through greater connection means we see more of what we could not before.
Eventually, the internet will become the thing that some will say we are losing to a new-fangled revolutionary concept we cannot yet even fathom, and the cycle will start anew.