Constant Communication

For the past few months I have been thinking about the way in which technology has impacted and intruded upon our daily lives. Dramatic, I know but please read on. When mobile phones became mainstream my mum always questioned why I would want to be in constant contact with everyone. However when I ran past my curfew she saw the light. Now, bless her, she finds it difficult to understand that I am in communication with networks all over the world.
The short of it, I have always used technology to initiate and maintain contact with others. A digital native some would argue.

The more I think about my increasing use of technology the more it scares me. Nevertheless I am completely intrigued about how we as individuals are using technology in our daily lives. Social media has to be one of the highest daily uses. There are a million statistics to this but I ask in what capacity are we using social media?
Are we communicating with known networks, growing networks, communicating with friends and family, are we working, marketing ourselves, blogging, building our own personal brand, reliving consumption experiences, what are we doing?
I feel the need for a future survey. Watch this space.

Please take a minute and think about your daily use of technology. Has your use of technology grown with the development of mobile technologies?

I have been commuting into Glasgow since January. During this time I have found that I am bored on the train (it does not take much) and have been undertaking some observational research on technology use. I started a new project, Technology Watch. I have been blogging about who is using what technology on trains, in coffee shops and even in the hospital. You can find the blog here: www.technologywatch.tumblr.com

I have observed so many people with laptops, smartphones, ipads and all the technology in-between working on the commute to work and from work and in coffee shops. It got me thinking a few things.

The first, is that we are all in constant communication with someone. It may not be the person sitting next to you but you are probably communicating nonetheless.

The second, that we may be limiting our new experiences to work on our online selves. When was the last time you spoke to that stranger on the train instead of tweeting?

The third, that we may be putting extra stress on ourselves to maintain and develop our professional careers. Do you work on your commute, out on your lunch, at the dinner table?

I admit that I do all of these things. There are not enough hours in the day for me. I would imagine you have a similar story. It seems that while technology can make our lives easier it also encourages us to work more. There is an intrusive nature to the technology and if you are anything like me then you will wholeheartedly adopt it.

Social media fits ever so nicely into this equation. The exponential rise in social media use demonstrates how technology can impact our lives. It is in our own opinion whether the impact is positive or negative. We all choose to adopt the technology.

I believe social media is our constant communication partner. We all strive to maintain communication. Our communication habits will differ among us. For instance I have friends who only use social media for online social networking, with friends and family. I know of other people who use social media to market their business, others aim to position themselves as experts, others grow networks and use the collective thought to solve issues. In last month’s article the growing importance of consumer reviews was acknowledged by government. People do act with benevolence to help others make informed choices.

I have also noticed that when we are at times alone, we look for technology to fill that void. The last time you were out and a friend went to the toilet, leaving you alone, did you reach for your phone to fill the empty gap? I nearly always do. Essentially we do not like to be alone. Technology allows us to fill that gap and social media provides us with a global platform for that voice.

So what does this mean?
As individuals, I would say that we need to ensure that we are not over working ourselves or neglecting ‘real world’ experiences for online ones. As consumers, we can relive our consumption experiences and assist others in making informed purchase decisions in doing so. As business owners and professionals, we can reach each other, our markets and the world at any time. We can monitor the creativity of our consumers and engage to co-create products and services they want.

I love the idea that we are in constant communication and enjoy the increasing technology adoption. I do question our ability to define the distinction between technology use for work and leisure, there seems to be a blur. Are we working longer because of access to technology?

I also question the current uses of technology in business circles. Everyone seems to be a social media ‘expert’ but they are trying to reduce the power that makes social media so great – our own individual voices.

2 Comments on Constant Communication

  1. Great points Jill. I broke my Blackberry a few months ago and hence lost my address book and the constant chime of incoming emails – I had set up all 5 (yep 5 !!!) email accounts to forward to my device. When broken, the silence was deafening. I now use a tiny freebie phone and I just get communicate with people that I want to when I want to and do not feel the need to check for messages at every free oportunity. It is actually a blessing.
    BUT
    I work from home and cannot walk into the kitchen without looking at the laptop and checking my various Inboxes !! I guess that technology influences all our lives to some degree; the extent, I guess is down to the user. Must go now, tweets to post !!!

    • Jillian Ney // March 10, 2011 at 10:42 am // Reply

      Thanks Phil.

      I am the same when working from home – everything is open and online. I know of people who open Twitter and Facebook before they do anything else in the morning. I am not really to that stage yet.

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