If you haven’t watched a movie with a teenager, you’re missing out on a highly visible trend that at first seems annoying: Second screening. Their heads are down and their phones are in their hands as they glance up at the screen only occasionally to see what’s happening. Are they on Facebook, Twitter, somewhere else? Yes. They’re communicating with friends even through some of the most intense dramas and funniest comedies. For adults hoping to share a great film with a younger generation, it can be disheartening to watch.
But ‘kids these days’ are big users of something that adults started called the ‘Connected Web’. They don’t really know a world where an experience is only personal and isn’t to be shared widely. They’re most comfortable when they’re experiencing something together, even if virtually. They’ve become pretty good at doing more than one thing at a time. This profoundly changes how they interact with the world.
Changing the workplace
This trend isn’t going to stay in the home. The desire to experience collaboratively will carry over to the workplace and how work gets done. The good news is that the skill of following along in-person while simultaneously holding conversations comes in handy when there’s a deadline and a pile of things to get done. It has only been a few years since many companies blocked social sites like AOL Instant Messenger in an effort to get people to ‘focus’. It is ironic that we’re now buying software that helps people to have conversations instead.
Let’s be honest…have you been in a meeting and texted or emailed someone in the room with a comment or question on what’s being discussed? Most of us have and we know it as a guilty pleasure. How does the meeting room change when it is standard fare to electronically elbow and kick each other under the table? Two years ago, The New York Times declared it rude, and Orange County, Florida recently struggled with it, but I have to wonder if even in the past two years it hasn’t become more acceptable.
Just like teens watching television and coworkers texting in meetings, we’re seeing a progression toward constant connectivity and conversation. It can seem crazy to the people who aren’t used to it, but it is as normal as can be for those who grew up in the new environment. It is much like any technology change in the past, in fact. And like the past changes, we’ll all need to get used to it.