five young adults on cell phones
Staying in touch

Unintentional reactions

Picture five young adults in their early 20s sitting close together in a line on a bench. All of them are laughing or smiling. They are all looking at or typing on their cell phones. What is your very first thought when you picture this?

I have a confession to make. I must ask some of you for forgiveness and understanding. You see I am a “Baby Boomer” born in 1950. I view this image through the eyes of my generation. I am not a digital native. I am confused when we visit our children’s homes and they have three remotes controlling their TV. I have a smart TV that is smarter than me. My car has advanced technology I do not know how to use. I do not perceive through the lens of a person using social media all day. I use business-related email constantly but check Twitter or Facebook maybe once a week, if that often.

Please forgive me when I confess that my very first thought when picturing five Millennials closely sitting together on a bench with all five using their cell phone is, “Get off your phone and talk to each other!” I ask myself, “Why are they always on their phones?” Those are my very first unintentional reactions, but then I catch myself and rethink it. I realize that if I were in my early 20s, I would be on my phone all the time. I strive to be aware of generational diversity. I reframe and reconsider the need for Millennials to stay in contact with others via social media. This is a need of their generation. It is not important to my generation.

My very first thoughts demonstrate unintentional bias when faced with generational diversity and differences. Can you identify an unintentional bias that you experience in either yourself or from others? How do you feel when it happens? What are your second thoughts after you realize an unintentional bias just occurred?

Please share your example in the comments and then discuss the comments of other learners.

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding Diversity and Inclusion

Purdue University