From Uber to Pokémon Go: How Tech Can Actually Bring Us Closer


Are Millennials “socially stunted” or the most emotionally intelligent generation yet?


In the case of digital natives, most learnt to Google before they could read an analog clock, but as much as this technological aptitude is a positive, it’s often blamed for a myriad of alleged inadequacies. From an difficulty communicating fluently face-to-face, to suffering from severe social anxiety, Millennials, and the tech they tote, have a pretty bad rap when it comes to fostering human interaction. Yet what seems to be overlooked in relation to apparent dip in social skills are the ways in which tech can bring us closer and spur the most unexpected relationships. From our in-depth chats with Uber drivers to our collective excitement over hunting down some Pokémon, these incidental interactions are helping to hone the emotional intelligence of Millennials, and all generations alike.


Uber chats

Beyond the offers for mints and a bottle of water, the incidental interaction between Uber drivers and riders is a prime example of how tech can bring society closer.

With every unique driver-rider combination comes a wealth of knowledge to be shared. The Uber driver profession attracts a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds and the non-exclusivity of the app means people who, in the ordinary course of life would not interact, are brought together. Additionally, the relative anonymity of drivers and riders can make for the most genuine of conversation. Those often-candid conversations we share in Ubers cast doubt on the stereotype that tech creates a barrier to hide behind. Who knows, perhaps your Uber driver’s tale about leaving the 9 to 5 rat race as an IT manager to sell used cars in Tokyo will spur you to do the same?


Airbnb homestays

Millennials could be forgiven for a certain degree of cultural ignorance considering the increasing amount of time spent with noses in smartphones. But when it comes to bridging that gap, Airbnb homestays are exhibiting a Golden Gate-level effort. A thorough social awareness must transcend the cultural divide, and discussing Cumbrian sausage mincing techniques with your host in the Lake District of England, can certainly help fulfill such transcendence.

Airbnb homestays not only open up otherwise unaffordable properties to the thrifty traveller but with them comes the opportunity to better understand a culture. Moreover, unlike the well-rehearsed dialogue of hotel concierge, Airbnb gives back soul to the tourism industry. One can’t properly appreciate what it means to be an Israeli, living on the border of Palestine, or, a UK citizen who voted to remain in the EU until they’ve lived under the same roof.


Spoonr App

The Spoonr App is effectively Tinder for spooning or cuddling. Yes, it may be a tad creepy, and yes, it’s an eyebrow raiser, but you’ve got to hand it to Millennials, when it comes to getting what they want, they certainly have an unashamed and highly efficient approach.

We can all relate to that melancholy feeling that only a hug will satiate, and since the Free Hugs campaigner on the local high street can’t always meet the demand, Millennials have created a tech solution to make up for the shortfall.

Of course, being hugged by a stranger can be more than a bit uncomfortable, but it cannot be denied that it certainly does bring people closer together in both the metaphorical and physical senses. Whether or not it’s what those who originally termed the phrase “community spirit” had in mind is moot, no one can dispute how good a simple hug can be.


Pokémon Go

In tech terms, Pokémon Go is a far cry from the popular playground trading card game, but the augmented reality app’s recent release has sparked even greater fanfare. Some say that gaming in a virtual reality is the quickest way to breakdown a relationship. Since Pokémon Go’s launch, Twitter has been flooded with the qualms and questions of friends and family concerned that their loved ones are being sucked into a blackhole of Pikachus and Pokéstops. But is their anxiety warranted?

In the fast paced lives we lead, escapism is thought of as a necessity. Of course it mightn’t be the traditional means of unwinding after a chaotic day at the office, but who’s to say that running round your local streets searching for Pokémon isn’t an effective form of stress relief? And let’s not forget the exercise! In fact, it was Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods that taught us, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” So if Elle’s claim holds true we should see some much happier people and relationships in our midst.

So in reference to these examples is the “socially stunted” tag that Millennials cop warranted, or, should the stereotype of the pimply teen retreating into a dark bedroom to get wired in to the Interwebs be reimagined? At any rate, it is certainly clear that what’s new and cool and in tech need not necessarily be debilitating to one’s social capacity and could well be helpful in fostering closer relationships.


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