Highly advanced technology and social media are responsible for how a vast majority of us live, work, and communicate in the modern age. More specifically, these things shape how we navigate life and, thus, also shape the reality of the current employment landscape.
As Corporate and Career Strategists, we can tell you with confidence that one of the predominant ailments plaguing today's workforce is a lack of skills. Employees and job-seekers simply don't have the specialized skills that employers are looking for. People often think that a diverse skillset and an agile mindset get jobs. That's not entirely correct. Those attributes help employees keep jobs. It's candidates who are uniquely qualified – that is, they specialize – who have the easiest time getting jobs.
How does a lack of specialized skills relate to tech and social media?
Social media is the great distractor. It keeps people looking at what other people are doing rather than identifying and building the skills they need to excel in real-life. Instead of developing a competitive skill set, people are spending their time trying to build a competitive social profile.
Not surprisingly, research has found that most users' social media output is driven by an urge to keep up with the input being received. Moreover, thanks to social media and other tech innovations, attention spans have decreased from 60 seconds, to 30, to 10.
Let's break all of this down.
Friends, acquaintances, co-workers, etc. are presenting aspirational, highly-idealized content that other users attempt to emulate, equal, or outdo. What we (the general public, as social media users) saw as being a catalyst for connection, has become a vehicle for validation and a platform for narcissism.
Social media is taking most people further away from themselves – their authentic selves – and putting more distance between them and true fulfillment. People would rather receive the validation of social media followers than the "high" associated with living a deliberate life and contributing meaningful, creative work to the world.
With our streams full of inauthentic sharing and fake news, it's nearly impossible to get a feel for what's reality. Over time, we start to move through life with an off-balance view of the world. Then we allow that view to shape the decisions we make – where to put our energy, what skills to build, and what strengths (if we are even aware of them) to lean into.
One of our 6 Guiding Principles is Egoless. It’s all about the fact that Everyday Fulfillment is an inside job that doesn’t rely on external quick fixes and others’ approval. It’s about recognizing the self discovery and commitment that go into pursuing a deliberate life and doing meaningful work.
Social media has a distinct sun side – there's a lot of good that can and does come from it. But research clearly shows that its shadow side is increasingly predominant – obfuscating people’s ability to make authentic choices.
Now our question is: What are we going to do about it?