Are Friends Electric?

In the age of mobile-first, are we putting the mobile ahead of people?

By Alex Vaughan – DASH Founding Partner

From a personal stand point, I can remember a family friend describing the ringing of a landline telephone as ‘rude’. The immediate demand for attention, albeit temporary, disturbed the natural order of things and tangibly interrupted the recipient of the call from their environs. The implication from the family friend was that telephone calls were secondary to the ‘real’ form of communication experienced by people occupying the same room. I would hazard a guess that in a random polling, the majority of people would agree with the latter hierarchy – we humans prefer to talk in person than over the airwaves.

However, we’re not simply carrying around a device capable of making and receiving calls anymore; keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues. The global dominance of the mobile device has seen a large proportion of major populations carrying around something similar in processing power to that of a portable computer. Communication itself in the age of the smartphone has fundamentally changed. It’s no longer the case that the information received by the device permeates and distracts from the ‘real’ agenda of the day for a moment or two. The information we respond to on our smartphones is now setting the natural patter of our days. For many, the natural instinct is to pick up your mobile device first thing in the morning and glance adoringly at it last thing at night. Indeed, the phenomena is effectively creating an elongated day for school children in the United Kingdom – with special sleep clinics created in Doncaster to counter the mass use of blue-light emitting mobile devices.

Over the course of the next few months, I want to examine in detail the raison d’etre of our digital lives. Is the mobile device bringing us as a global population closer together in new and exciting forms of connectivity – or creating a sense of individualism and pseudo reality within our digital society? From my perspective as someone passionate about commerce, I am not entirely convinced that a screen-addicted population is actively of benefit for business or indeed marketing. Whilst I am no advocate of marketing jargon (despite being prone to using it myself), I will take an omnichannel approach to my study. In this way, I hope to prove that the relationship between our ‘real’ and electronic lives in many ways mirrors the current contention between bricks & mortar and online retail. Reconciling both the latter and former is important to me both personally and professionally.

I am indebted to the following sources for sparking this post: 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy & this article from The New York Times.

 


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