By Jeff Davidson
In his forward-thinking book Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, the late Dr. Neil Postman of New York University observed that the introduction of the automobile at the start of the twentieth century had a dramatic impact on society. He remarked that it was excusable for the populous to not comprehend, at the time, the ramifications of the introduction of the automobile into our communities.
People had no notion that roadway systems would change, communities would shift, cars would become a status symbol, or that drive-in movie theaters as well as fast-food drive-thrus would emerge. People eventually would buy cars that reflected their personality and install awesome new audio systems.
Dominating the Social Landscape
Flash forward to today. The prevailing technology dominating our social landscape is the smartphone. One out of two Americans now own a smartphone, according to studies by Nielsen. Of smartphone owners, 58 percent check it at least once every hour. They often check the device at inappropriate times: while in the bathroom (39 percent), eating with others (30 percent), and during religious services (9 percent), according to Harris Interactive. In an illuminating study by Ipsos, 21 percent of respondents said that they'd "rather give up sex than their cell phone."
Logging on to popular Internet sites has also increased dramatically. Between 2011 and 2012, visitation to social sites, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, rose 37 percent. Are your staff members stealing pockets of time here and there to surf socially while ignoring basic duties?
So quickly are our smartphones and online connections infiltrating every aspect of our lives that it's difficult to predict what the social and cultural landscape will look like in another five years. Will we gravitate toward the "Borgs" as depicted on Star Trek: The Next Generation? This is a race of beings that are half organic and half machine. With robot-like appearance and efficiency, their unrelenting, mechanistic objective is to take over the universe and destroy all life-forms unlike their own.
Back on Earth, my concern is that our dependence on personal technologies is growing at an alarming pace. We'll wake up one fine morning to find that we cannot get across town without consulting our GPS, we cannot go on vacation without checking who's contacted us recently, and we cannot go a single morning, afternoon, or evening without being connected, accessible, and predisposed to endless interruptions.
About the author:
Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written fifty-nine mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, and USA Today. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "consummate speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his website www.BreathingSpace.com.
©2012 by Jeff Davidson