Technology Is Not a Generation Thing

“Millennials, it’s so easy for them to adopt technology, they were pretty much born with an iPad in their hands.” – everyone.

I’m writing this article to propose the position that, to me, technology is not really a generation-specific thing. Here’s why:

Millennials don’t always prefer technology

I am one of them. To this day, I still prefer going to Indigo and buying a physical book. Sure, Kindle is convenient and not paper-based, but the feel of opening a book for the first time, smelling the aroma of the pages being exposed, and having a memorabilia representing an accomplishment once the book is complete is a very satisfying experience that only the tangible can offer.

Socializing is inherently a human aspect, not a technology one

With the advancement of online communication platforms like WhatsApp, Hangouts, Skype, Facebook, etc. it may seem like our generation will begin diminishing the need for face-to-face connection. Despite the many benefits (and I mean many) of such platforms, the need for humans to talk in person, shake hands, observe non-verbal cues, and just socialize will always prevail. Using such platforms to talk to people in different countries who would otherwise be unreachable is definitely a plus, reaching a wide audience and getting in touch with many people at once is also another benefit, but the effectiveness in communication is lost through the medium i.e. quality versus quantity.

Millennials don’t always understand the technology behind the technology

Sure we’re quick at keeping up to date with the hottest trending apps, downloading them, and fearlessly start using them in our daily lives, but how many of us Millennials actually know and understand the technology behind the technology? Take Instagram for example, I use it very actively (to further my brand around fashion, motivation, and inspiration) but don’t know how to code using JavaScript Technology – one of the computing languages used to code this App. Now of course, since the internet boom and surge in technology, more and more graduates are entering the space of engineering, computer science, big data, etc. but it is erroneous to generalize that all individuals within a generation actually understand the technology used to make the technology they use.

Millennials may be fast at adopting technology, but it doesn’t mean they’re the only generation that can adapt to change

Baby Boomers who were born sometime in the early 50’s were in store for lots of changes to come – the television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, credit cards, ball-point pens, air conditioners, dishwashers, FM radios, tape decks, CDs, etc. All of these inventions came after Baby Boomers were born, that’s a long list and there’s much more in there I left out. The difference here between our generations is that by the time technology began to settle in, mature, and spread out in our day-to-day lives, it was more difficult for Baby Boomers to get accustomed to and learn it. For Millennials and the next generations to come i.e. GenZ, it’ll be much easier, because our schools are now tailored to educate for this new industry, universities are investing lots of money in events, workshops, classes, accelerators, and hubs that pertain to the startup and technology world, and companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and LinkedIn have become the funnest places to work.

Using technology in a personal setting is different than a corporate one

I was fortunate enough to join the project team that was leading TMX’s migration to Google, where I was tasked to lead the Change Management arm (the user-facing aspect of it, in charge of user adoption). During the phase where we were still introducing our plans to move to Google, people (especially Millennials) said “this will be a really easy change for me, I already use Gmail in my personal life.” I would often reply “how many emails do you have in your personal account? Now tell me how many emails you have in your corporate account.” A lot of people (regardless of generation) quickly realized that the use of an office tool suite at work is completely different from the use of it at home.

Another observation is with regards to the use of social media, and in particular the recognition Millennials get for being so gifted at it. The point I usually make here is that, sure it’s easy for a Millennial to take a selfie, Instagram their lunch, or write a status about how much they hate Trump on Facebook, but using social media in a business context is an entirely different beast. Building your personal brand, selling a product, marketing a service, directing traffic to your blog, promoting an event, etc. these are business-related uses of social media that a lot of Millennials don’t necessarily know how to do well.

I am more likely to be a proponent of the idea that generation and technology have a correlation, but not necessarily a causation effect. Personally, I still enjoy listening to Frank Sinatra, wearing bow-ties and suspenders, writing in my journal, and do many other things that would seem unconventional for a ‘Millennial’. That’s why I often joke with people and say:

I’m actually a Baby Boomer stuck in a Millennial’s body