It’s amazing how much being “connected” has changed the way we do so many things in the last 10 years. If you take a few minutes to consider the things we do with our smart phones or tablets, then think about how we did those things before we had the devices, if we were even able to do those things before, it really highlights how much our activities have change by being connected.
I heard a speaker talk about the future of being connected at a conference hosted by Epicor Software several weeks ago. One of the things he said was that a projected 200 BILLION connected devices will exist in the world by the year 2030. My logical, and yes somewhat cynical, brain couldn’t get a handle on that statistic. “There are only about 7 Billion people in the world” I thought. Are you trying to tell me every one of them will have 30 devices each in the next 17 years? I found the thought to be very improbable, if not impossible.
I approached the speaker after his presentation and raised my doubts about the 200 Billion device statistic. He asked me how many I had today. I quickly responded 2, a smart phone and an iPad. He dug deeper…Do you have any blue tooth devices, like speakers or headsets? Yes, I said. What about your vehicle, does it connect to your phone or iPod? Yes, I said. What about internet enabled TVs, thermostats, security systems and the like, he asked. You see where this is going…
It is truly amazing how much connectivity has changed, and will continue to change, the way we do things. The future of this technology will undoubtedly have a significant impact on our daily lives in the years ahead. Most of the changes we have seen, and will continue to see, are for the better. They have made things faster, more convenient, and given us more control over simple things like music, finding our way around, and keeping up with people we don’t see very often. However, the potential negative affect of all this is very dangerous, in my opinion. I’m concerned we may have become so connected to our stuff, that we may become more DISCONNECTED from the most important things in our lives…other people!
I’ve seen this in business and in my personal life already. I once asked a coworker if they had talked to a customer about a problem, and their reply was “yeah, I texted him.” One night at home I looked around the living room and all of us were doing something on our phones. The kids sometimes text me or their mom from upstairs instead of walking down, or even yelling, like we used to do.
I’m not saying any of this is all bad, but in some respects I think it is. Relationships will ALWAYS be strongest when they develop face-to-face. Communication will ALWAYS be more meaningful when you can see the other person’s face, or at least hear the tone of their voice. The value of one-on-one time in person will NEVER be replaced by Skype and social media. I know always and never are words we aren’t supposed to use, but I really do feel that strongly about it.
You may be asking: What can I do to prevent this? Isn’t this kind of change inevitable? Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do have a few suggestions:
1) Instead of emailing or texting your coworker or a customer, pick up the phone and call them whenever possible. It doesn’t take much longer, especially if you type slowly like I do.
2) Pick one night a week in your house to be “no phone night” when everybody puts their phones away from dinner time until morning (hint: this only works if you abide by it yourself).
3) Call distant relatives and old friends occasionally. Don’t let social media be the only contact you have with them.
4) Go see customers that don’t come in to your locations on a regular basis. Or call and invite them to lunch, breakfast or something else.
5) Try not to text or email bad news or information that may cause conflict. There is no tone in an email or text message!
There are many other little things we can do, but probably the most important one is just being aware that this is happening and intentionally taking steps to stay “connected” to the people in your life in ways that don’t require an Internet enabled device. If we can all try to do that, I think the future will be a lot more fun for everyone!