I recently had the fantastic opportunity to attend Anthony Robbins: Unleash the Power Within (UPW) in Sydney. Whilst I’m not going to go into detail about the whole fours days, I do want to share a small idea I picked up along the way.
In most of our lives today we have a little black (or sometimes white) interruption device. For some it lives in your pocket, for others your handbag. Regardless of where it normally lives, I’m talking about a smartphone or PDA. The interruption device comes in many styles and by an increasing number of manufacturers. No longer is it just a phone, but so many more functions all rolled up into one little device, that makes a noise, and creates an interruption.
The interruption occurs like this… It’s a Saturday afternoon, you and your wife/husband/partner/lover/friend/associate/neighbour/colleague are having a long and meaningful face-to-face conversation (No, not on Skype, but actually in person) and during this conversation ‘bleep-bleep’, the interruption device makes a noise. Instead of ignoring it and continuing the current conversation, you stop the current conversation to check the device. Only to find that yes indeed you do have a new e-mail message, but, because of your location (on the fringe of your mobile carriers coverage map – ala Vodafone), you cannot download the message, you just know that it is there.
Now, the original ‘real’ conversation is well and truly over, and you are now starting to obsess about the data coverage – or lack there of – where you are, and I wonder what that message was about? Who could it be from? I wonder what they wanted?
Unless you can read that message in the next 4.8374 seconds, a feeling of disconnection begins to creep in. Now all your thoughts are focused on one message, and the unknown contents of that message. The longer it takes to retrieve the contents of that message, the greater the overwhelming feeling of disconnection is. Finally, the data coverage gods are being kind to you, and ‘ta-da’ – Here’s your message: ‘Marketing Team Meeting: Cancelled – reschedule for next week’. (hardly worth the wait was it?)
Only 10 years ago, there were world leaders (Presidents / Prime Ministers) that had less access to information from an entire staff of people than we do now from a device just a little bigger than a bar of soap, that we carry with us 24×7. Are we using this device to assist us, or does the device slowly control the way we interact with people? I’m not saying they are not useful (my iPhone serves me very well), just that should we be interrupted every time something in our pocket makes a noise?
Have people lost the art and skill of personal interaction, in favour of interacting with a device?