26 Feb Are we a society of teenagers?
Do you remember what it was like being a teenager? The constant pressure to fit in, striving to be popular, to say the right thing, to wear the right thing, to have the latest thing, talking about yourself constantly, airing your ill-informed opinions on whoever, whenever, staring at a screen for hours, social awkwardness, the list goes on.
Well it struck me recently, that the behaviours which used to be exclusively the domain of spotty teenagers, have now permeated society across all ages and all walks of life.
How many of you have witnessed some of these?
- Ignoring the close friends in front of you to post what you’re doing to “friends” you barely know on social media!
- Giving a quick, short email response rather than a considered response that actually answers the question.
- The rise of “I reckon” in social and business meetings
Why is this happening?
Well the obvious explanation is the rapid permeation of mobile technology and the era of social media. Indeed, two former high-level Facebook executives have recently spoken out on the dangerous societal influence of the ever-present platform.
Ex-vice-president for user growth Chamath Palihapitiya, said: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.” Facebook’s founding president, Sean Parker, criticized the way that the company “exploits a vulnerability in human psychology” by creating a “social-validation feedback loop”.
Powerful stuff, especially coming from the perpetrator not the critic. But we can’t lay all the blame at Facebook’s feet, the corporate world fosters similar validation feedback loops. Corporate cultures pressure employees to say and do things the company way, which make it difficult for authentic conversations to be had.
The motivation for change, is coming from a growing number of customers and workers who reject superficiality in favour of authenticity, value and a genuine presence from their personal and business relationships. If you dissect the individuals and organisations who are succeeding in today’s world, it is those who deliver themselves with purpose, passion and empathy.
What can you do about it?
The best solution to shaking off superficiality and embracing authenticity, is to completely opt-out of the aforementioned, social-validation feedback loop and ‘be present’ when engaging in an interaction. Secondly, be more considered before offering an opinion, asking yourself questions like, ‘do I fully understand this person’s perspective?’, ‘am I sufficiently informed?’ and ‘is this behaviour really me or a version of me that others expect?’
To reap real rewards in today’s world, shake off your superficial teenage years and go deep and meaningful.