How Instant Validation is Making Us Dumber

I have a love/hate relationship with technology.

It’s connecting us to the people and the things in our lives. At the same time, being constantly connected is making us crave instant gratification and instant validation.

What’s instant validation?

Let’s take an event in recent history that we can all relate to: the “Binders Full of Women” debate of the 2012 presidential election. Yes, you remember that one….if you’re like me and were a tidbit offended, in the pre-digital days, you’d go on with your night, discuss among your family and maybe talk about it amongst friends at the next poker night.

But, if you’re like most of us in the digital age, you turned to Twitter or Facebook to see what everyone else is saying. If everyone else is talking about it, you’ll feel validated that you really heard what you thought you heard and may chime in, but if no one is talking about it, some of us start to question ourselves: “Why is no one talking about it. Hmm..maybe I misunderstood him?”

Technology has led to an unprecedented level of group think and instant validation:

  • Checking Facebook after writing a witty status updates to validate your sense of humor.
  • The feeling you get when you’re typing into Google and your exact question autocompletes? Validation that you’re not alone.
  • Did that reporter just drop the f bomb on TV? Let’s check Twitter to validate if anyone else caught it. Yep, it’s trending.

Is the need to be validated bad? Not really, the truth is we’ve always sought validation from the people around us. But the key difference is now we want instant validation…and it’s ok if it comes from strangers.

In the debate example, in the “old” days, we had ample time to watch the whole debate, think about it the next day, read the transcript if we so desired, and form an opinion we can stand behind. Now, we tend to make snap judgements which are much more influenced by others.

In short, our need for instant validation is taking away the need for us to think critically and independently about the world around us. If we don’t question the world around us, who will create the next Apple or Google? Will the next generation of leaders fear people questioning their ideas and just give up on trying to innovate?

There are signs of it now…every new start-up is “the next Facebook” or “Pinterest meets YouTube” or some other amalgamation of two services that already exist.

Where are the REAL disrupters? They’re probably not on Twitter looking to have their next idea validated.

I wrote this because I’m guilty of it too. I would say a good deal of us are. But I’ve begun challenging myself to think like a leader who thinks critically and makes well-informed decisions that I can stand behind, and not like a follower who seeks instant validation.

I encourage you to do the same.

Or else…like I always say, we’ll turn into the movie Idiocracy.

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4 responses to “How Instant Validation is Making Us Dumber

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