Engaging Culture

Pay Attention!

If you’re tired of “Blackberry Zombies” walking around your office with their heads buried in their smart phones, then you’re not alone.  An iPhone, Blackberry, or other personal organizer can be a great tool, but I’m finding too many people living in bondage – who feel compelled to check their e-mail every five minutes.  (Exactly what is that incredibly important message you’re looking for?)   I’ve blogged before about a survey that revealed constantly checking and re-checking your e-mail lowers your IQ as much as smoking grass.  Enough said. It’s called “continuous partial attention.”  Our meetings are filled with people with both hands under the conference table checking e-mail, or conference audiences with laptops humming.  Organizational expert Julie Morgenstern has already pointed out the significant drop in productivity with multitasking, and I can confirm that in my own life.  But my biggest concern is more about our growing distance. It’s actually become acceptable to carry on conversations with people who are also simultaneously checking the web, downloading e-mail or communicating through IM. People in cubicles next to each other would rather send an e-mail than reach over the wall and say “hi.”

We’re simply losing connections with each other…. is there an answer, or is this the future?

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  1. Very much in agreement here Phil…..wait I have an e-mail…..OK. back to what I was saying ….. hold on I just need to IM this person …….

    I am guilty of this behavior often and need to cleanse myself of it before accusing others. I think it is a troubling trend but I also don’t think there will be a significant decrease but rather an increase as the wired generations move into positions of power over time.

  2. It is interesting how we now have artificial authenticity, where we can create the feeling of being connected through our devices while neglecting the messiness of actual connection. By continously using our devices to communicate we can create comfort bubbles that allows us to avoid the possiblity of uncomfortable conversation. Afterall it is a lot easier to ignore an email or text then it is someone looking at you in the eye.

  3. I am guilty of this. Well, sometimes the person I want to speak with is consumed with work and I don’t want her to jump off her seat when I sneak in her work area (most got their headsets on). So, we communicate via Skype. But, I do feel that the interpersonal relationship is slowly diminishing. On the brighter side, technology makes the world seemingly smaller.


  4. Make reading & writing “required” in institutional settings. And
    make the Verbal Summary mandatory at every opportunity. Then,
    ‘allow’ iPhone, Blackberry or Droid activity optional (in re: time &
    location). Start at home; then christian schools; finally, higher
    education. When such behavior begins to look ridiculous to those
    who previously practiced it, change will come … real communication
    will make a comeback (and be better than ever before).

    Phil Reed

    PS- Let’s begin a dialogue as to how . . .

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