5 Things Technology Has Cost Us—and Why We Should Get Them Back

Recently, my mother asked me if Facebook was different from Viber. When I said yes, she asked, What about ‘Like Us’?” My brother and I exchanged amused glances, and then I attempted to explain the different social networks and the common terminology associated with them. That conversation was just one of many that highlighted the difference of the times between theirs and ours.

While it’s a given that there are disparities between parents and children, perhaps now, with the rate of development being such as it is, the generation gap is greater than ever.  We’ve even invented a whole new jargon of our own. For example, did you know that the words phablet, selfie and twerking, among others, are now included in the Oxford Dictionaries Online?

I’m not sure whether to be amused or horrified about our generation’s contribution to the English language; however, it did get me thinking about the traits our parents had that we seem to have lost in the midst of all this innovation. Check out my Five Forgotten Treasures of the Past, and see if you agree that we should usher them into the 21st century:

Manual labor—or How to do things the hard way

How many times have we bought a gadget because it makes things easier and faster for us? Gone are the days of doing research in the library with the card catalogue system, of washing dishes and laundry by hand, and of writing and typing complete sentences.

That’s not to say that technology is bad. I’m a fan of technology, but too much convenience can breed laziness. If we’re used to having things easy, how do we condition ourselves to hold strong when the going gets tough? It reminds me of that scene in Wall-E where we see how obese the humans were thanks to their dependence on automatons.

Concentration—or How to stick it out past the first 140 characters

In their blog series entitled Millennials in the Workforce, RingCentral employees talked about how social media has affected our attention span. Carolyn said, “If something can’t be said in fewer than 140 characters, we often won’t say it at all.”

We’re so used to multi-tasking—having several programs and tabs open on our computers while checking our smartphones for notifications and talking on the phone at the same time—but are we truly being productive? Then there are the infographics and memes that allow us to pass up on reading articles in favor of key words and images. It’s a form of cheating, letting us skip the reasoning stage by giving us the answers instantly.

Farsightedness—or How to plan for the future

My parents say that they worked for security while we work for satisfaction. They looked forward to the retirement package; we look forward to the training opportunities and the number of vacation leaves.

Thanks to the Internet, we know that we have work options beyond the traditional nine-to-fives, and that we can pursue our passions. That’s a wonderful, amazing thing. However, we should learn to balance the emotional rewards, so to speak, with the long-term, tangible ones. That means being able to step back and seeing the big picture, instead of focusing simply on what we feel we need at a given time.

Patience—or How to wait

Most kids nowadays didn’t experience the thrill of receiving written replies in the mailbox weeks after they sent their letters, or the delight at discovering that they framed a photo perfectly after having the roll film developed. Our generation is all about instant gratification, about getting the results as quickly as possible. The downside is that we lose the anticipation that makes the end sweeter and, because results are so immediate, we sometimes fail to value things. There’s strength of spirit in being able to sit back and wait patiently, whether it’s for your turn in line or for the fruits of your labor.

Real connections—or How to interact outside social media

Social networks are great because they allow us to stay in touch with friends and family who are far away, but it’s ironic how they can also isolate us from real interactions. We like statuses on Facebook, add emoticons in messages and retweet other people’s thoughts, and somehow consider them acceptable ways to show others that we care for them. Sure, they’re fun and convenient, but they shouldn’t be replacements for real hugs and genuine, one-on-one conversations. And the day that we measure our worth by the number of “friends” we have is the day that we might as well have lost our identities.

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