Zapping lives

Although I’m specialised in the fields of Diversity, Cross-Culture and Coaching, I still read about my « old » profession; talent and recruitment. In this field, the subject “new generation” often comes up, e.g how to understand them, what they need, what motivates them, etc. One of the characteristics of the Generation Y, also called the “Harry Potter Generation”, is strong capability in the new technology, communications and media – and that they constantly zap from one thing to the other.

I have read that there is some discussion to when Generation Y calculation starts, but roughly speaking we talk about people born in the mid/end 1970’s to end of 1990’s.  This is a generation that has had access to technology like never before; mobile phones, home computer, social media, virtual chatting, internet shopping and virtual games like Second Life. It is not uncommon that a member of the Harry Potter generation listens to her Ipod while she does her homework on the Mac at the same time as she chats on her Ipad, with the TV on in the background… (We are talking about the rich western part of the world, of course.) Naturally trained multitaskers!

The flipside to all the multitasking, according to research, is that the capability to focus on something for a longer period of time is underdeveloped. But do we need to focus anymore? And is Generation Y the only zapping, multitasking generation?

Honestly, I think anyone has to be a multitasking zapper these days! More or less. Technology has brought us so many possibilities to connect and do several things at the same time, and we have become so incredibly accessible with our Blackberrys and Iphones, Mac-Lights and Ipads. The “Harry Potter’s” have the advantage by having grown up with it, but most people have to deal with it somehow. Whether you are comfortable with it or not, depends on your interests, capability and appetite for new learning.

And do we really need to focus on one thing for a longer time? I must admit that I have become such a zapper that I have trouble focusing myself. But yes, I do need it and I think we all need it. To read a business book. To concentrate in a webinar (without reading email or do paper filing) or in a meeting. To be present with clients. (To be present with anyone, really). To really talk with and listen to the children, and spouse (shut off the TV while having dinner!!) To slow down and listen to ourselves.. And by that I mean for example listen to the signals the body gives when being tired instead of running over the tired feeling by introducing more coffee, more activity, more zapping.

Zapping lives are busy lives and can be fun and energetic lives. And that’s great, as long as we are able to find the right balance, the balance that works for us each individually. The balance of « doing » versus  « being », the balance of « ying and yang », « the rule of the opposites »; whatever resonnates with you.

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