You may not believe it, but there was a time when people lived without smartphones. Some of you might even remember it. It might seem impossible to believe – that human beings were able to function on a day-to-day basis without the little devices in their pockets – but it’s certainly the case.
In those days, there no was single device through which people ran their lives. Social media was not a thing, and outside of face-to-face interaction, people only conversed with others over the telephone and in the form of a letter. At some point the internet arrived, but for nearly two decades that was only accessible through a computer (most of which were not computers as we know them today!)
Let’s be clear; the smartphone is a very modern invention. And they have fundamentally changed how we, as human beings, exist.
Of course, the emergence of smartphones has brought with it many benefits: We can browse the internet (a world of information at our fingertips) with the click of a button; we can video call with someone on the other side of the planet at the same time as messaging someone about dinner; we can store almost all of the information that we need in a tiny chunk of metal that we keep in our pockets. Smartphones, without question, have made life easier on many levels.
And yet, slightly over a decade of having this ease available to us in a single moment has bred a mass-culture of instant gratification. This is, obviously, a particular issue in the West. Now we expect everything to be available to us as soon as we want it. We want things when we want them and how we want them. This mentality, needless to say, is simply not realistic.
Nor is it healthy. When we consider the impact of smartphones on the global population, it comes as no surprise that the rate of depression has never been higher. Never have people’s expectations of reality been less out of sync with the genuine nature of things. And depression is a very modern illness. Our cultural expectation of instantly being gratified is unrealistic and counterintuitive and it is making you unhappy.
To make matters worse, it’s ruining your business. Every great businessman knows – almost more than anything else – that the ability to be patient cannot be overstated. When he was building Apple from the ground up (with a little help!), Steve Jobs knew that it would take time. Yes, he knew that one day the company might be a great one, but more importantly he understood that in order to achieve that goal he, and his team, needed to be living in present moment, in reality.
Smartphones breed a mentality of the ‘now’, and business is very much a long-term game.
There is also a key paradox surrounding smartphones that is important highlight. Although it may seem like our range of communication has never been larger (which is true: you can contact anybody in the world, anywhere in the world, with the same ease as turning on your computer), the impact of your smartphone also has a converse effect.
The power of these devices is such that we all now have the ability to effectively create our own little words. We are very much in charge of who and what we do and do not see, and though this may be more comfortable, it also serves to shrink the world in which we live. Instead of keeping your eyes and mind open to what may be around the corner, we now focus on what is already there. For your business, this will prove detrimental.
This is not to say that smartphones, or the use of them, is entirely or wholly negative. What is fundamental to keep in mind, nonetheless, is that the quick and instant nature of this technology is at odds with how humans live in and process reality. The world, especially the world of business, is bigger than what you have in your pocket.