If you are American and 25 years or under, researchers find, you most likely experience others through a device, your social interactions happen with the help of a smartphone. The humming of a vibrating sound sets everyone in alarm, in milliseconds fingers unlock the umbilical cord to the absent friend. No more boredom, no uninterrupted conversation or a slow moment of creative intake from the real world. Most of us show this dysfunction and would rather loose their wallets before parting from their phones. Our lives happen through smartphones and we rarely do just on thing at the time. There are campaigns advising drivers from texting while driving and crossing the street while texting. Multitasking has been claimed to be a woman's unique ability, but since 2009, since smartphones went mainstream we became one human superpower multitasking our way through our day from the minute the alarm on the phone wakes us up to the final checking of our social popularity rating on all of our social medias via the real social thermometer - the phone. Everything else is ... lets face it: backdrop. People in real time are merely floating by, ticked off as bit-part-player making background noise. We have unlearned how to interact, read emoticons send emotional content such als eyecontact because we fear that what we send cannot be edited, therfore we cannot make it right. Sherry Turkle wrote a new book called RECLAIMING CONVERSATIONS ( here a NYtimes review) more or less a self help book. The trouble with multitasking is not that it is not possible, it is its result: continuous partial attention and a waste of time!
So here is the the challenge that is out there to our society and to us as human beings:
Smartphones have damaged human interactions. We need to give 'talk' a try.
We are getting tired of the constant interruptions at least when we witness it with others. The numbers of Burn Outs rise. When do we ever park our phones for the sake of honoring someone's presence? There is no concert or performance where organizers haven't learned to initially remind every visitor to turn their phone off. We dare to go to cafes together texting others who are not present. "Our productivity rises enormously", companies report if they ask everyone to leave the phone in front of the meeting room with hourly 10 minutes phone breaks. A reverse world one might think. Maybe Sherry Turkle just wrote that very needed handbook on phone etiquette because we have all arrived at a stage of tech fatigue - collectively.
We all thought that we become more independent with technology that keeps us informed everywhere we go yet we have enslaved ourselves to it. It is time we feel embarrassed to check our phones in certain situations and be proud of ourselves if we manage the one thing -
UNITASKING – not multitasking
The virtues of person-to-person conversation are timeless,
and our most basic technology –
talk – responds to our modern challenges.
We have everything we need to start,
we have each other.
Sherry Turkle Reclaiming Conversation
The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
On sale October 6th