Gen Z is two-and-a-half times less likely to organize their files using folders, according to a survey by encrypted cloud provider NordLocker. Almost 50% of Gen Z leave their files on the desktop without putting them in a specific folder, whereas only 18.7% of baby boomers say they do the same.
NordLocker’s research also found that when looking for a specific file, Gen Z is almost twice as likely to utilize the search bar rather than remember the file’s precise location. Of Gen Z, 45% say they use the search bar when looking for a specific file, but only 27.3% of baby boomers do the same.
File organization is likely falling out of fashion because search algorithms are becoming extremely advanced and are widely adopted across digital platforms. The generation that grew up alongside Google is used to a digital environment that is searchable, whereas the older generation is used to a more traditional way of handling files.
John Suler, a professor of psychology at Rider University, notes that search algorithms can not be fully relied upon, and people who avoid organizing files themselves are missing out on important mental stimulation.
“Algorithms can do a very good job of finding certain things, but not others. You have to trust that the machine will do a good-enough job. By organizing files yourself, you benefit from the mental exercise of thinking about your stuff, how things group together and what similarities and differences matter to you. It’s a good way to exercise your abstract thinking abilities. And how you organize things reflects who you are,” Suler says.
On the other hand, Gen Z is much more organized when it comes to deleting files. In fact, 22.5% of Gen Z say they delete their files on a weekly basis, while only 5.6% of baby boomers say they do the same. Instead, the older generation prefers deleting their files sporadically (35.6%).
“Savvy people realize that the influx of files in our information-overload digital lifestyle is so overwhelming that it’s better to delete things as you go along rather than have to cope with the colossal task of paring down a mountain of stuff later on. But one does have to develop that skill for accurately deciding in the moment what should be saved and what needs to go,” Suler says.
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