This article was originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse. Click here to read the original article.
I have read countless employment and recruiting-related articles in the last several years explaining, and complaining, about how people ‘ghost’ on recruiters and employers in this modern-day job market. They don’t show up to interviews as scheduled, don’t show up on their first day of work, or they simply quit their jobs without so much as giving the professional courtesy of an email, or actually resigning in person thus avoiding the awkward conversation with their boss about why they made their decision. They simply disappear – never to be heard from again.
Many of these articles I’ve read, from LinkedIn posts to the front page of the Wall Street Journal, have placed blame for this phenomenon squarely on the shoulders of the millennial generation. I am not one of those people making this argument.
My belief is this: A person’s willingness to cavalierly and without remorse ignore or abjectly dismiss another person is the direct result of the deterioration of the modern-day relationship, and the evolving definition of communication. Due to the advent of certain technologies used in today’s society, human communication is gradually becoming less and less interpersonal (literally defined as ‘between people’), but rather, it’s devolved into something much less personal, something inter-digital.
I grew up before the explosion of cell phones and the internet, and everything that followed in the wake of those two developing technologies from texting to instant messaging to social media. That’s not to say I don’t use all of these technologies, I enthusiastically do. I rely on them every day to work and communicate. But the foundation of my relationships with people were built on real, direct face to face communication. The people I grew up with – we really know each other. We know everything about each other because our relationships developed over long periods of time spent together, in person, having live, meaningful, verbalized conversations. The time we spent talking was never abbreviated by a character limit or interrupted by three bubbles. We verbally or physically communicated how we were feeling, we weren’t searching for an emoji to explain it for us.
How well do you or can you know someone that you got to know by typing on a keyboard? That’s a very good question.
I have relationships and friendships with people that have developed over many years. These are people I never want to let down or disappoint. My feelings for them are deep rooted. How substantive are the roots of a relationship that may have been established and developed by 30 minutes’ worth of instant messaging? Or the shared commonality of liking the same YouTube videos, or being connected to the same people on Facebook or Instagram?
Today, regardless of age or occupation, there is an illusion of a relationship with someone because you may have commented on the same posts on social media. You play online poker with someone, you’re connected to the same person on Instagram, you “like” the same post on Facebook, so they must be like you. They must like all the things you like. They are your friend.
But you do not know them. You do not have a relationship with them.
When a recruiter develops a relationship with a job seeker through emails and text messages, or ‘connecting’ on LinkedIn, there is no sense of disappointment when the job seeker simply decides not to show up for an interview, or not start a new job they accepted 2 weeks earlier without so much as sending an email. The job seeker does not feel a sense of responsibility or personal accountability to their recruiter to explain why they made this decision. This isn’t a person they have a relationship with. It’s someone they’ve exchanged emails and texts with. They have nothing vested in that relationship. When the recruiter calls them repeatedly to find out what happened, it’s easier to just ignore the calls and emails. They never had a real attachment to this person in the first place, so offering no response or explanation seems like an acceptable action.
It’s easy to get upset with people who do this, and rightfully so. But you can’t blame them for being this way. This is how people generally communicate with each other today, and for many of those people of a certain age, it’s the only way they know how to communicate. If we all grew up in a digital age, where most of the communication was taking place electronically and not interpersonally, would we all not act similarly?
This is the world we live in today. We are bound to the technology that has been created and continues to develop and that has undoubtedly made our lives a thousand times easier and more fun in so many ways. We are in the middle of a technology revolution unlike any that history has ever seen. You do not need to look very far for the evidence of social evolution that technology has inspired – it is all around us.
But there are side effects to that technology. Perhaps it’s not an evolution after all, but a devolution – the deterioration of relationships. Perhaps technology has caused modern relationships to be less personal and shallower. Or maybe it’s the deterioration of the construction of those relationships. Like a building without a solid foundation – if the wind blows hard enough, that building will crumble, just like a relationship that is constructed similarly.