The “Look-Down” Generation

It literally drives me crazy…driving in the morning/evening commute every day is a stressful task without added annoyances, but there it is, every…..single…..day. After finally navigating your way around the human impediment clogging traffic for the last five miles, you look over at the driver and you see it. The “look down.

You know the look-down, right? Phone in lap, texting/dialing/syncing/selecting music, etc.? The “I’m not even pretending to pay attention dude, just leave me alone and let me sit here in the left lane until I’m good and ready to move over three lanes and exit?” It’s maddening (especially knowing the blare of my horns is drowned out by the Beats headphones they are sporting.)

It’s hard not to notice, and truthfully it’s hard not be hypocritical about it – I’m just as guilty of taking a glance, answering a text, or managing my incredibly counter-productive Waze app which basically dares me to update traffic conditions while I’m driving. So dangerous, stupid, self-absorbed, yada yada yada…until we finally have “MADAT” (Mothers Against Dumb-A** Texters), this is the world in which we live. For Millennials and GenX, it’s an ever developing, constantly growing challenge.

But for the younger generation, it’s even more problematic. With a constant distraction monopolizing their limited attention span, I’m convinced they have lost the innate ability to know what the hell is going on around them. I’ve got a 15-year old son learning to drive – he can expertly perform the act of navigating a vehicle, but the kid literally couldn’t find his way home with bread crumbs and a compass.

That’s because he’s been in a “look down” mode every time he’s been in a car for the last ten years. He knows the destination, but doesn’t know about the journey.

First-world problems, perhaps, but not insignificant. You’ve been in restaurants where you have four people, four iPhones, right? Parents, kids…it’s a little sad really, but we’ve accepted technology as a babysitter and there you have it. Our kids are going to be different in many ways, more technologically adept than we ever dreamed, but they are (generalization alert) by and large missing the world and the people around them.

And here’s the rub – as much as we would like to deny we ever use our “gut” in talent selection, we have innately spent a lifetime observing the world around us. Years spent people-watching in airports, in restaurants, in class, at the ballpark – the exact kind of activity my kids would find boring.

Hell, they may be right, but “boring” doesn’t necessarily need to be a negative. Sometimes it really is the seemingly insignificant details along the way that make us wiser.

So keep your head up, kiddo. There’s actually more going on around you than it seems.


Talent Acquisition Executive, team-builder, and full-time dreamweaver. Creative Director, Content Designer, Writer, Speaker, Entrepreneur, terrible golfer, lover of The Art of War & Texas Hold 'Em.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • KD
    February 23, 2017, 8:13 am

    money shot: “or managing my incredibly counter-productive Waze app which basically dares me to update traffic conditions while I’m driving.”

  • September 13, 2017, 8:56 pm

    I struggle with this. And it’s also annoyed me on many occasions as well. It’s takes a conscious effort to disengage with our electronics and engage with the people and world around us. I really liked the efforts of Steinar in his mission to put his phone down. The guy succeeded in a big way (he met someone new each day for a year and posted them on an instagram feed, “dailyhello”). He didn’t stop using his phone, but he made an effort to see and interact with the people around him. I think that’s what we need more of.