BREAKING! Millennial looks up from phone, appreciates value of human interaction.
Networking has been around since the beginning of time. Cavemen interacted with each other through intricately painted symbols and illustrations that archaeologists believe to have been one of the first forms of written communication. You could say it was their version of social media, as they would literally write on each other’s walls to endorse the local flora and fauna, or to update people about the coming Ice Age.
Even the early settlers knew a couple tricks of the trade. They built strong networks through collaboration to strengthen the economy and their communities. They relied heavily on word-of-mouth and written recommendations to ensure that they received quality goods and services. Toss in a couple of endorsed skills here and there, and they were bound to end up with the best butter churner this side of the colony. For a while, communication carried on this way via stone wall, carrier pigeon, or good ole quill and parchment.
Then, by the grace of Alexander Graham Bell, the invention of telecommunications made it more efficient for human interaction to span long distances. People could make connections from all over the world without leaving home and subjecting themselves to disease or the plague.
With its evolution over the next few centuries, technology has made it easier to communicate with others without actually seeing them. From stone tablets to touchscreen tablets, there has been a slight divergence in the whole meeting face-to-face thing.
As a millennial, I don’t think I could survive without technology and social media. I know, you probably just rolled your eyes as hard as I did at that statement! But if you were to drop me in the middle of nowhere with a map, a pat on the back, and a destination, I would honestly have no idea how to get there. I’m not really sure even Google Maps would know either, but it would at least provide me with immediate direction (and the location of the closest Starbucks!).
I recognize that without networks like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, I would feel less connected to the world. But with them, I can feel just as disconnected. My grandmother once told me that I have an old soul and should “get out there more” (whatever that means).
I contemplated this thought on multiple elevator rides up to Curiosity Advertising’s eighth-floor office. In an elevator—such a small, confined space—people’s initial reaction is always to look down at their phones. I’m guilty of this, but when I’m looking down, I can’t even recall what the person standing next to me looks like. You never know who you could be standing next to when you’re engrossed in your phone: it could be the Queen of England, or more importantly, the boss of your company.
As an intern, I’ve learned that initiating an elevator chat is just as quick and convenient a way to network with others as sending a LinkedIn request. Not to mention, it’s more personable and can make a greater impression. This summer, I’ve made it a habit to put my phone in my pocket whenever I step into the elevator, regardless of the awkward silence, and just embrace it. I take the opportunity to get to know whoever else is along for the ride, or at least acknowledge the presence of existing in a cube of awkward silence with another human being.
Though striking up small talk or even making (scary!) eye contact and smiling politely might not get you an instant promotion or job offer, it’s a thoughtful gesture and could be significant enough to at least get your foot in the door.
Just try not to fart on the elevator. Trust me.
—Chloe Borah, Curiosity Intern