There is a popular online meme with several photos of family members sitting right next to each other, all on separate smartphones or tablet devices. The quote that accompanies it, inaccurately attributed to Albert Einstein, says “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” While it is unclear who exactly stated the often-shared quote, the sentiment is still a strong one. Has access to technology actually harmed our relationships?
As a small business owner, I find my smartphone is a necessary evil. Unless I want to be tethered all day to my desk, answering emails, I need that access in a mobile format.
I actually decided to go without my smartphone a while back when I lost it, thinking it would bring back some old-fashioned tranquility to my work-family-life balance with a non-smart model instead. It was nice for a little while, in the way a detox diet makes you more aware of your food weaknesses. I realized how much unnecessary time I spent with my smartphone in my hand and how it negatively impacted my productivity and relationships, particularly with my kids. Like a good juice cleanse, though, my trip down cell phone memory lane came to an end. I was anxious when I could not respond to clients, or at least see my communications, when I was away from my desk.
On a personal note, I missed the high-pixel camera option on my smartphone that I had used more than I realized to document my everyday life. I reluctantly made the switch back, feeling like a failed pioneer who had given up farm life to return to civilization. That lasted about half a day and then I was back to my old techy ways, but with a new perspective to keep from going overboard with remote communications – especially when there are real, live people right next to me that need my attention.
I tell this story here to illustrate a larger point as it relates to business ownership. While technology has significantly expanded our ability for customers and networking, has it hurt the basic tenets of business interactions? If you’re afraid it has, there are ways to humanize your business.
Most of us doing business today remember offline life, even if those memories are somewhat faded. We recall what it took to communicate with business prospects (a phone call!) before we could instantly send an email while sitting at a stoplight. We could (probably) go back to what seem like pioneer days for business communication if we had to, but what about the next generation of business owners? Will they be more or less successful at the end of their careers?
I realize I am asking questions that only time can answer, but I wonder them aloud here anyway. Losing my smartphone was my own wakeup call to not totally forsake the tried and true communication methods of the past, in business and personal realms. I never want technology to rob me of the family members, friends or clients right in front of me.
With all the ongoing changes in technology, how has it impacted your business, for better or for worse?
Parsons is a part-time writer for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes in business
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