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Being Social Takes Work

By Taylor Deer

In 2015, a census was conducted by a group called Common Sense Media. They surveyed 2,658 US children between the ages of 8 -18 years old about their media usage, or “screen time”, on a daily basis. Between TV, Online Videos, DVD’s, Music, Social Media, Gaming, Reading, and Mobile Media, teenagers (13 to 18 year olds) spend an average time of 8 hours and 56 minutes on entertainment media per day, which does not include time spent at school, or for homework.

To put that into perspective, that’s longer than most people sleep in a day.

That number is scary. Its not just because what they ARE doing; it’s what they’re NOT doing that worries me.

I have no doubt that today’s teenager is just as intelligent (if not more) than previous generations and has access to the most stored information (books, online databases, research studies, etc.) that the human race has ever seen. My worry is that we have lost the value and understanding that experience outweighs knowledge. It is what you do with your knowledge that makes you who you are. Information is useless, unless it is put into practice.

We are forgetting that there are things that cannot be learned online. Yes, we can Google it, but just by reading it, it won’t make us any closer to mastering that skill. Believe it or not, making friends and building relationships is a skill. It takes measured practice to become great at both. Today’s college student believes that you are born with those skills, like its somehow written in one’s genetic code. I hear it all the time, “he’s the recruitment chair, because he can talk to a wall” or, “I’m not a good recruiter because I’m not an outgoing person.”

The people that are excellent at making friends and building relationships with others have put time into being good at it. The subtleties of reading someone’s facial expressions and actively listening to someone are learned practices. They take time to learn. So, in a world where nine hours are being taken away from a person’s life with screen time, those are nine hours they are not putting into the practice of their social skills.

We have a whole generation of college students coming to school this Fall that haven’t put in the work to be excellent at making friends, being a good host, making people feel welcome, having deep conversations, being authentic, telling stories, actively listening, and the list goes on….

No wonder your brothers only want to eat wings and hang out with themselves at your recruitment events! It’s because they might not have the skills to hold an intelligent conversation that isn’t about beer or parties. Some people might have even joined your organization so that they would get an instant 50+ friends without having to go through the typical “friendship making process” that everyone else has to go through. All they had to do was look cool, dress how you dress, toss the football around, etc. and they might have gotten a bid from the guys who joined before you did.

The point is, our brothers, and potential new members coming into school need to be reminded of how to be social, how to treat people as a host, how to listen to someone, and how to get along with people with different interests. You can make conversations magical and avoid boring questions. You can develop better situational awareness and life hack your way into making more friends. When you are preparing your chapter for the fall recruitment season, be sure that it includes repeated, experiential, and very basic training, on how to be social. In doing so, all of your brothers will be a better help to you in making more friends and building more relationships.