My oldest class of students considers themselves millennials, so I wanted to show them the “Millennials in the Workplace” video by Simon Sinek.
I honestly hoped they’d all throw down their phones in disgust and agree with everything Sinek tells them. They’d confess their addictions to their phones. They’d talk about how depressed they all are. They’d share their loneliness and low self-esteem and begin the process of transformation back to the old ways, before all these phones.
Some did admit to how they see others experiencing these things, but most completely disagreed with the idea that the cause of all our woes stems purely from our addiction to social media and technology. After all, one student remarked, “Aren’t we watching this video using the very technology he worries about?”
The hands shot into the air as they cried foul on so many fronts ranging from the need for more empirical evidence–over a longer period of time–to prove with certainty that social media harms us to the false analogy of social media working like alcohol to an alcoholic. A student explains, “That analytical framework denies the positive effects of social media like how it connects me to my grandparents who live in another country and how aware we become of global problems.”
Another student asserts that correlation is not causation when it comes to anxiety and depression amongst college students. Other factors like the insistence on having a set life plan by the time you reach kindergarten causes the anxiety we feel now. Another student reminded the class that, historically, times of technological change always create massive amounts of anxiety because we aren’t good at resting in uncertainty. He insists that we live in a period of uncertainty and now adaptation. We will adapt. The answer isn’t to throw away your phone.
What I love about my students is that they don’t just receive what you tell them as truth. Perhaps the very use of social media has taught them how to look at different angles and consider different questions and possibilities. They know how to juggle massive amounts of data and synthesize it quickly. Some good has come about from having all this information available.
As I listened to my students talk today, I realized why I love educating at the college level.