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Last week’s AESP Spring Conference in Baltimore wrapped up with Dr. Julie Albright’s presentation, The Social Utility – great stuff. I had already attended a similar presentation by Dr. Albright, apparently during last fall’s conference (crap for memory here). As the title suggests, the subject is social media: LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and dozens of offshoots that aggregate and/or process information from these sites into a preferred presentation. It’s mind blowing.

Dr. Albright’s presentation includes generational views of these things – the people aspect. There are three generations of folks in the workforce today, from old to young: boomers (born 1946-1964), Xers (through 1982), Yers/millenials (through 2000). The latter two are known as, tech adopters, and the digital natives, respectively. Boomers vary from adopters to stonewallers.

A stonewaller has not yet accepted the dumb phone or the spreadsheet. Cable TV and the compact disk are current technologies for them. They only forward crappy jokes via email, have a 12 year old desktop (computer) less powerful than most wristwatches, and they are fine with a 40 pound CRT, which you can probably find as a relic in the Smithsonian museum of science and technology somewhere.

As a tech adopter, I did not use a computer, unless I had to for class, until I got out of college. This was pre-Windows, pre-Dell, and pre decent coffee. I did use a crude spreadsheet my senior year, and I have to say, that was the point computers went from an evil nemesis to something useful to me.

As a web 2.0, I do social media for two reasons: marketing and recruiting. I seriously don’t give a crap about it otherwise, just yet anyway. Ostracists can grouse and ignore these at their own risk. A growing slice of the working population (millenials) would die without social media. One of Dr. Albright’s slides said something to the affect that most social media addicts value it more than air, water, and food. And I thought to myself, “These are the same freaks who pick a college because it’s green – air, water, (environment), or facebook?”

Do YouFaceTwits have any problem-solving skills? Is there any creativity there? Every waking hour requires information bombardment – visual and/or audible. One guy in the AESP lamented his kids were always interrupted by social media and couldn’t finish their homework. The room erupted with applause! I blame it all on the DVD.

In my day, we didn’t fly to California for vacation, we drove. Two parentsand four kids packed in a four door “sedan” with vinyl seats. Toys were made of steel and plastic with wheels, or action figures. Games were imaginative or challenging – like name the make and model of every car going the opposite direction down the freeway. When we got cranky and out of line, we got yelled at or threats to stop the car. Xers know what happens then (YouFaceTwits, the answer is not “take a pee”). In fact our school bus driver would slam on the brakes if we were running around or causing a ruckus on the bus. He’d probably get hauled away in cuffs and put on the national child beater list today. Millenials? Nahda. Pop DVD after DVD in the player for an audio/visual pacifier. Visual/audio bombardment from age 2 on.

Here’s the thing I couldn’t more agree with: “boredom” fosters creativity and breakthroughs. Digital bombardment snuffs this out every second of the day for YouFaceTwits. The Wall Street Journal reported on this a little over a year ago.  The article covered a couple findings from university studies: people with ADHD, which I swear I’ve always had, did better in various fields from art to science because they can’t focus on things for long periods of time. They daydream, which is what people do when they are bored. Gee, I wonder why I always sucked at standardized tests with reading comprehension from boring irrelevant stories that serve no purpose whatsoever. These sections just bored the living hell out of me. Would Einstein, Newton or Picasso do well on a standardized test? Do Zuckerberg, Gates, and the late Steve Jobs have college degrees? Boring!

As reported in the WSJ article, scientists found that tuner outers are generally less creative. Why? Filtering information and limiting views rather than letting it all in, including seemingly useless information, inhibits breakthroughs. Think about this. Twitter? Facebook? Useless information? Maybe as one guy said, Alex Rodriguez’s hair gel does matter.

I run about 45 minutes every weekday and maybe 1.5 hours average on weekends. I’d rather be tied to a gurney all day in a black room at 105F than run on a treadmill with a TV blaring in front of me. I’m frequently asked, “Don’t you get bored?”, No. I let it all in. It’s one time I don’t force my brain to do anything. After processing data while sleeping, it’s amazing what it will process when awake and conscious but not forced to do anything – and not being bombarded with artificial stimuli. Try it sometime.

Jeff Ihnen

Author Jeff Ihnen

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