We all live on our mobile devices. At the same time, we often complain about how this is impacting other people (but not us!) in a negative way. All the talk seems to be around how our focus on these devices is destroying personal relationships. Others cry that our already questionable attention spans are shortening at an exponential rate. But I’ve realized there is a much more serious question to be asked.
Are we losing our ability to think for ourselves?
This weekend I was walking from my apartment to the local Starbucks where I was meeting with a guy to discuss some general business ideas. I hadn’t yet really solidified in my mind what I wanted to discuss but I knew the 5 minute walk to Starbucks would give me chance to do that. Free from distractions, it would be a time to think. And I did. Until I got distracted by all the people walking all around me, who were staring into their mobile phones.
That’s when it hit me.
The vast majority of these people who were looking at their phones were consuming some form of content. Whether it was their Facebook stream or Snapchat or Instagram or Twitter, the bulk of them were consuming, not creating. And in consuming other people’s content, they were absorbing that person’s perspectives. That person’s view on fashion, music, business, politics, etc. They were absorbing other people’s thoughts.
And that bit is great. The mobile – social world we live in has given us the ability to learn from others all around the world. However, if we’re just scrolling from one piece of content to the next, and the next, and the next (which is exactly what is happening) until something jolts us back in to the real world – like maybe bumping in to someone coz we weren’t looking where we were walking! – when do we take time to actually think about what we just saw/read/heard?
I certainly didn’t see anyone watching something on their phone and then pause, gaze wonderingly off into space before resuming their Content Crush. (Could this replace Candy Crush!?!?) So when were this folks ever going to get time to generate their own considered thoughts and opinions?
Anyone who spends any time on marketing or advertising is familiar with the concept of influencers. It’s the hottest thing in social media marketing today. I just searched ‘#influencer’ on Instagram. 2,858,355 posts! That’s a lot of influencing. And of course, this is not a new concept, marketers have been leveraging it for years. But these days with so much content being passively absorbed, maybe these influencers are actually doing all our thinking for us.
If we are just passively absorbing other people’s thoughts, without any discussion or discourse, we run the risk of their thoughts becoming ours.
But please don’t stop reading my stuff! 😉
Life is such a contradiction sometimes!
PS: To add to the discussion on if mobile devices have ruined human interaction….