Harnessing authenticity online: Thriving at home and in the workplace
The impact of the digital era
Although social media platforms can be praised for giving people the chance to spread their message and voice their opinions, it is also responsible for nurturing a generation where popular culture is obsessed with sameness and struggles to tolerate difference. This can threaten a person’s inclination to be authentic, particularly online.
By developing a reliance on digital platforms for communication, young people can become accustomed to seeing metrics, emails, ID numbers, avatars or even screen names rather than people, thus widening the distance between individuals and making real connections. In other words, the use of digital platforms can reduce human contact and, as a result, raise feelings of isolation and detachment.
The 4th major industrial revolution, the digital era, is encouraging a generation towards fakeness, eroding the boundaries of good quality relationships and helping us to become more detached from authenticity, which is perpetuating mental illness.
Mental health issues affect 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 young people. 50% of mental health problems are established by aged 14 and 75% by aged 24. In 2016, 106 young women died by suicide, the highest figure in two decades for this group.
However, it remains true there is an increasing pressure in our culture to meet unrealistic standards that people are unable to live up to, particularly millennials who spend a great deal of time on social media or playing interactive computer games.
Thriving at home at the workplace
Most companies today invest in creating digital workplaces to increase connectivity and efficiency among their employees. However, there are real challenges that come with accelerating the growth of digital, both in the workplace and at home. To avoid negative effects we need to develop smart leaders and even smarter parents or families.
The Z generation are our future leaders, teachers, parents, politicians and influencers. If we want to foster a culture of authenticity, where young people can thrive both at home and in the workplace, it is vital to model and lead by example, as opposed to demonising how active our young people are on on social media platforms.
For most parents, this issue is creating a great source of conflict in the home. Restricting the use of digital technology is often the response to this problem, to encourage our children to connect and engage in activities away from technology. But, does this serve a purpose, to create an environment that is a place of connection, or instead just a real bone of contention.
Harnessing authenticity online
The digital era has many setbacks and it could be responsible for increasing mental illness. But, never has it been so easy to stay in touch with family or friends, preserving long distance relationships, and connecting us globally, at little or no cost.
If used effectively and for good, it can also foster a culture of authenticity, helping us to connect and share vital information to improve the lives of others. Last week, due to the snow and travel disruptions. I facilitated a workplace mental health workshop, with people in the room and utilising video conferencing. 76% of the participants of the workshop, reported an increase in confidence to signpost colleagues with stress, anxiety or depression.
This is something that could never of happened 10 years ago, and it struck me, that without digital technology, this would of simply been cancelled. Perhaps, the setbacks of the digital era are closer to home, and represent our own struggles with being authentic, to embrace our true identity and stay connected to our intrinsic values, even when our views are not popular or valued by others.
Learning how to harness authenticity from other settings, like the family dinner table or in our workplaces will help us to cement this concept of being authentic to build a culture of connectivity and inclusivity. Instead of generating feelings of shame, isolation and emptiness, authenticity can be a great motivator to build bonds between people and empower us to embrace difference creating supportive families, communities and workplaces that impact future generations, both online and in person.