In the last 10 years, technology has profoundly changed how we communicate. The ease with which we can connect and share—and how often and with whom—has fundamentally altered discourse in our society.
We participate in types of communication that we didn’t really practice even five years ago. And it’s not just nerds and geeks who are playing, but moms, dads, kids, and grandparents.
Sure, we had e-mail, but that was typically at home or back at the office. Texting was a mode of communication that was popular with a subset of adolescents, but disregarded by most.
Today, those and other forms of electronic communication are so commonplace and used so widely that they’ve become embedded in our lifestyles. Typical. Normal. Comfortable, everyday communication tools.
We carry communication devices with us almost everywhere, and the sight of people hunched over their smartphones—in airports, coffee shops, shopping malls, etc.—is part of the culture now.
Now, a new category of communication device—wearables—is gaining in popularity and promises to make both active and passive communication even easier.
In the wake of Apple this week rolling out its already iconic smart watch—the Apple Watch, we’re already starting to see some backlash. The story goes something like this: because we are so enraptured in our devices, we are losing touch with our humanity.
In a New York Times editorial this week, contributing writer Timothy Egan likens the Apple Watch to a “digital dog collar.”
I hate the new Apple Watch. Hate what it will do to conversation, to the pace of the day, to my friends, to myself. I hate that it will enable the things that already make life so incremental, now-based and hyper-connected. That, and make things far worse…To the complaints that our smartphone addiction has produced a world where nobody talks much anymore, nobody listens and nobody reads, you can add a new one with the smartwatch: nobody makes eye contact…I can think of a number of places once considered off-limits for cellphone intrusions — the classroom, the dinner table, the bathtub — where the watch can interrupt. And who’s to know: it’s only a glance. There is some evidence that heavy smartphone use makes you dumber. The theory is that a having the world at the other end of a mobile search makes for lazy minds, while people who depend less on their devices develop more analytical skills. Add to this concerns about privacy: that the watch is a tracking device, which sends all your personal information to a central database — a corporate control center that already knows far too much about the preferences and habits of smartphone users.
Are you buying it? Because I’m not.
Look, I get that we can sometimes be so immersed in our online activities, that we can seem to ignore people who are right in the room. But this is modern life. We adapt—most of us, that is.
And, getting back to my initial point, we are capable of communicating more, not less, and often with old friends and acquaintances we’ve not spoken to in years. That’s a good thing by any measure.
Communication is key
In business, one thing I’ve learned is that communication is key. Most of the problems that crop up can be attributed to lack of, or poor, communication.
Let them complain that we don’t need to know what you are having for lunch, where you’re vacationing, or what new trick your dog learned.
But I say bring it on and keep it coming. I rather enjoy sharing all kinds of moments with friends and family, and sometimes even with their friends and colleagues.
Through these shared experiences, we learn about each other and see the world through a great many more eyes.
So bring on the Apple Watch. And, hey, Samsung, Google/Motorola, LG, and Xiaomi, if you have something better—a wearable device that will make connecting and sharing easier and more user-friendly—bring it on.
Talk to you soon.