Last week, we attended Cloud Expo 2013 in Silicon Valley. For anyone who has ever attended a Cloud Expo, you know the event is made up of two major parts: a) show floor and b) keynote sessions. During keynote sessions, speakers from exhibiting companies speak to the crowd in attendance about the innovations within their company and why the market should take notice. While this is all well and good, this post is about the crowd. For us, the most telling aspect of every keynote session was not the speaker, it was what the crowd invariably did regardless of how excellent or thought provoking a keynote proved to be. That action: looking down at their smartphone or tablet to text, play games, surf the web, scroll Facebook walls etc. Think about this: the crowd in attendance paid money to come to the show and yet, while they are in attendance, they tune the show out in favor of smartphones, tablets and mobile devices. It led us to this question:
Is mobile tech making us anti-social butt heads?
Looking Down, Crashing In
Has this ever happened to you: You’re walking down your local city street reading the news on your smartphone and you crash into the person ahead of you because you didn’t notice that the pace of walking traffic had slowed to a dead stop? Now replace walking with driving and crash into with heart jumping into your throat. We know this has happened to you.
Mobile devices are wonderful. They are tools meant to open the world. From being able to communicate with a friend half the world away, from being able to conduct critical business while laying on a beach to being able to fully control your banking accounts on a tablet, our mobile devices have given us the ability to be truly mobile and productive. Yet that mobility has given rise to an interesting phenomena: mobile communication anti-social behaviors. With powerful SMS and MMS applications native to our mobile devices, it has become easier to send someone a text message or a snapchat over actually talking to that friend face-to-face. With the advent of powerful mobile tech and mobile applications, it has become more acceptable to connect to someone via Skype or Google Hangouts than in person. We are living in an odd time. Looking down and crashing in is now acceptable. It’s standard. As brilliantly noted by Aziz Ansari:
The World is Wonderful
Is mobile tech making us more anti-social by the day? In different ways, yes. In other ways, no. This aside, another question which needs to be asked is: Is mobile tech making us miss the moments around us?
You love concerts. We love concerts. Everyone loves concerts. The next time you go to a concert, take note of how many people in attendance are looking into their smartphones or tablets to view the concert/take photos/videos rather than just watching the performance through their eyes. Take a look. It’s almost everyone. Think about this for a moment: You pay great money to go to your concert of choosing. As noted by the photo, we choose The Killers. Even though you pay excellent money to go see your favorite musical act of choice, instead of actually watching the show, singing along and dancing, you choose to look through the viewfinder of your phones camera to snap photos and post to social media. It doesn’t take a genius to realize a) in that moment, you’re not in the moment and b) social media is not all that social, err, in terms of the real world.
The point here being, the world is a wonderful place filled with amazing people, places and things. It might help us as a culture, a society and as a race, to put the devices away in favor of looking around. Put the mobile tech down, Instagram and texting can wait. Pick up your head, have a face-to-face conversation, appreciate the world around you and let the music in.