Isn’t technology wonderful? In seconds, you can Google just about any type of information your heart desires. Want to know where the closest Chinese restaurant is, let me just check the Urban Spoon app on my phone. Want to tell your friends about the latest movie you just saw, post it on your Facebook page. Yes, these digital devices have provided a whole new way of life for society. But is it for the better? Not necessarily.
As marketers, we vie for the attention of our customers all the time to capture marketshare. Now we compete against another major distraction… digital technology. Let’s face it, we all are distracted by something – TV, our kids, work, and yes, our mobile smart phones. I for one am just as taken with my iPhone and iPad as the next person. I love these devices and find myself focusing on new things I can do with them all the time. And I’m in my 50s. So what does that tell you about people younger than 30 who have never known a world where there has not been an internet.
As wonderful as technology has become in our lives, it also has had a deteriorating effect on social etiquettes. Does it bug you when someone takes a call from their cell phone right as you were getting ready to say something to them? It does me. And this happens more often than not… we seem to have become blind to social etiquettes and politeness.
This type of behavior is not only rude, it is a real stumbling block when we try to make a connection through traditional marketing mediums. If their own friends and family cannot hold their attention, how can an advertiser?
The gadget generation is even more prone to this phenomenon. They just can’t stop fidgeting with their devices. They are multi-taskers, they will check e-mail while trying to carry a conversation with you at dinner, all the while listening to their favorite music through earbuds. My own daughter is no stranger to this… she’ll do homework, watch TV and surf the web, all at the same time.
The younger generation lives through their phones. Have you ever noticed a group of young people walking down the street together? Many of them with their heads down staring into the little colorful screens of their phones instead of interacting with one another. They cannot wait until something new comes on the scene. They are also the most skeptical generation. It takes a lot to sway this demographic and even harder to hold them as a long time customer. They thrive on change. This is the way this generation rolls.
Multi-tasking in itself is not new. However, bear in mind that when your attention is divided, it is difficult to completely devote yourself to the present moment. Multi-taskers also have difficulty judging the emotions of others.
Often times, this generation dislikes face-to-face communication. They prefer texting, posting Facebook messages, or the old stand by, e-mail when communicating with one another. Hence the rise of social media. In a majority of cases, their only news comes by way of the internet or Facebook. This generation does not read the newspaper or watch the nightly news on TV. This is severely limiting in my opinion.
What would happen if we took away technology for 2 days? A professor at Loyola University in Chicago did just that. What she discovered was that many of her students were left feeling anxious and depressed without having access to the internet through a computer or phone. 48 hours without Facebook was torture to them.
Can you go 48 hours without the use of technology? It is so engrained into the fabric of our lives today, that even the most “unplugged” American may find it difficult to go 2 days without being touched in some way by technology. As advertisers, it is our job to use this medium responsibly to connect with our audience and to build trust. With all that is available at your fingertips… this is becoming more challenging, if not an impossible task.
I’m turning off my cell phone now… write me letter if you want to get a hold of me.