Is Your Smart Phone Taking You for a Walk?


There are 100 million smart phones in the U.S alone. For many of us it is a leash that controls your time, your human interaction and your life. Many people pick up their phones as soon as they wake up in the morning and check them right before they go to bed. Somehow people feel that have to be constantly available. No Goodnight Moon anymore.

If Machiavelli was alive today he would be a maker of smart phones.

Recently, I was at a Starbucks in Newport Beach, the epicenter of Southern California success and affluence. The median family income is $144,000. The average home price is over a million. Bentleys in the no parking zone out front aplenty. A line of well dressed, buffed, tucked, sliced, high income, smart and social media savvy people. The majority of them were in the queue staring blindly at their crackberries. Few people were talking. Everybody was on their leash impervious to the networking power of the room if they just talked to somebody next to them. The line and waiting area was a banquet of opportunities to meet a prospect, engage a neighbor or find a future date.

I was listening recently to the CBC. It is refreshing to get a perspective on news that is longer than an adversarial sound bite. The story outlined a recent study that Canadian addiction to their phones was resulting in an additional 7 hours of work a week. This had workplace ramifications because in some provinces (Canadian versions of States) like Ontario there were employment laws mandated that overtime had to be paid if one worked over 44 hours a week.

I recently read an interesting article in the New York Times saying that there were workplace benefits of being out of touch. Some companies were realizing that employees need to be disconnected from time to time leads to long-term productivity. At the beginning of 2012 Volkswagen reached an agreement with a small portion of its work force to stop the e-mail server for employees 30 minutes after their shift ended and restored it half an hour before work began the next day. I feel relaxed all ready.

We all have choices in the end to decide which end of the leash we want to be on. Woof Woof.

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3 thoughts on “Is Your Smart Phone Taking You for a Walk?

  1. Thanks for an absolutely superb blog piece. We’ve become a society of 24/7 interconnectedness, and while there may be some tangible benefits to that, they may be outweighed by the intangible costs and externalities. No Goodnight Moon, anymore… indeed!

    Your discussion of the need to be out of touch… the workplace benefits of being disconnected… actually talking to other people on line at Starbucks, instead of everyone being online while they are on line… jeez, what a revolutionary concept! My God, next you’ll be saying that people should also be getting a full night’s sleep! Yes, we all need down time, to reflect, to cogitate, to assimilate, even to meditate. Your piece is a great clarion call to do that.

    By the way, Hank, given the subject and substance of this piece, you might also enjoy checking out the recent book by University of San Diego Professor, Frank Partnoy: “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay”. I had the chance to meet and chat with the good professor a month ago, before and after a talk he gave here on his book. His book, his thoughts and his comments are well-researched and well-informed. The idea is productive and purposeful procrastination… and it’s powerful stuff.

    Thanks again for a great blog piece.

    • Hank Blank

      Great comment. Very perceptive. I recently remember doing some reading about Alvin Toffler’s book called Future Shock. He said we will reach a point where there is too much data for the human brain and behavior to observe. Thanks again. Hank.

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