Is That A Phone In Your Pocket Or Are You Happy To See Me?

Those of you who know me, are well aware that when it comes to technology – from the latest gadget to breakthroughs in enterprise business intelligence, I am deeply passionate about tech that helps enhance our everyday lives – enabling healthier, safer, more enjoyable and happier outcomes. There is no doubt about it, I am a geek, techie, engineer – {insert your label of choice here}.  I am even counting the hours until my much anticipated, 7 day awaited new Lenovo Thinkpad W510 laptop arrives via UPS.  I've even cleared out a spot for it on my desk, with a freshly minted Cat-6e cable standing at the ready to jack in this performance speedster into the Cardoso private network.  A new IP address has been assigned and I've come up with a number of machine names for the new arrival…but I won't be able to make up my mind on that until I unbox and hold it for the first time.  A machine name is for life, after all. {Grin!} Having said that, and though it is certainly true that technology plays a key and important role in my life, my life isn't about technology.   When on Facebook earlier today I noticed a post with a link that compelled me to hit that LIKE button hard – knowing full well that Zuck and his merry band of developers will certainly use that bit of metadata to their advantage at a future date and there will be nothing I can do about it.  I'm still reeling from all these “Friendship Pages” that have popped up now on Facebook – sounds like something out of a Strawberry Shortcake episode for heaven's sake!  Did you ask for a “Friendship page”? No, me either….but I digress. Take a look at this video – then please read on.
I think the majority of you out there would agree, at an intellectual level, that technology is simply a means to an end.  Similarly our jobs, our career – the things we do to earn a living – is not what ultimately defines us.  So why do so many of us get caught in that trap?? It used to be easy to have work/life separation.  Then along came modems & dial-up networks – a taste of what the virtual office might look like.  With the growth of the Internet and technologies such as VPN and high speed broadband,  access to our workplace computing assets is often taken for granted.  Wireless routers made it even more convenient to “work on the patio”, and maximizing our “work-life balance” flexibility.  Now we have increasingly ubiquitous mobile high speed access and handheld phones and devices that we can truly carry anywhere, use everywhere and above all, stay connected.  But as this video reminds us, a persistent connection to the digital world has resulted in our connection to the analog “real” world to be rather tenuous – often intermittent, and some might even say disconnected.
I recently poked some fun at Microsoft's latest ad campaign, suggesting that Windows Phone 7 would save us from the Zombies. In that post, I made the observation that no one is really asking to be saved – that the current satisfaction levels with phones such as the iPhone, Android and Blackberry are testament to the success and implementation of something that really works.  But at what cost?  As I've spent the last several months evaluating my own “digital footprint” it has become increasingly clear that in many cases, our ability to manage the integration of technology into our daily lives while balancing its benefits against unintended consequences has failed miserably.  
When I look around, the most common site I see are people staring at their phones.  Whether walking down the street, sitting on the bus or waiting for a haircut at a local salon.  It seems like we are almost obsessed with interacting with our technology and in fact prefer this to interacting with others.  I have been guilty of this myself from time to time, but it is something I work to manage now, conscious of who I am with and what opportunities are around me to enjoy.  There are times of course, such as when on a plane when I embrace the power of technology to provide some peace and solitude.  Nothing sends the message better than sticking a couple of earbuds into your ears to that person next to you – very effective, let me tell you.
So perhaps Microsoft is on to something – in another ad spot, Anna & Miles are the poster couple for using their phone to enhance their family and personal lives, not detract from it.  

Who really needs all these apps anyway?? I mean it's great when you're alone or travelling, but that's not the typical use case people are employing with all this great new technology.  They are using it every day, almost all day – and as much as they may preach that it's allowing them to connect with their friends and family, are they “really connecting”? Or just going through the motions?
 Disconnect to Connect – DTC. I like that, and thank my friend Rashid for sharing the video on Facebook that served as the inspiration for this post! Have a great week and stay tuned for some follow up posts to the ME.Brand journey! Keep Making IT Work!
Cheers – Pedro

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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