Wednesday, May 7, 2014

" TRUST used to be the keystone in business. In the past, agreements were closed with a handshake whereas nowadays they are with a thick contract and a few attorneys!"

Sunday, May 4, 2014


by Emmanuel Kuehn

Now, don't get the wrong idea. I am not a Luddite nor do I advocate going back to a time before Edison or living with candlelight. What I do suggest is that we wake up and take stock of where we are going. I have entitled this article - Virtual Junkie - for a reason. You see, in the "old" days junkies were real. They lived their experiences in real time with real consequences. If you took the wrong drugs, you paid the piper. Just ask Thomas de Quincy.

Junkies were traditionally looked down upon by society as a whole. They were seen as escapists looking for a type of utopia stimulated by various plants or chemical agents.

In today's world, there is not much talk about junkies. Drugs and various escapist paths of this type still exist but they are a minority taste. The "new" junkies I am referring to are "virtual". Their addiction is to mobile handsets, iPods, iPads, and any other device, which allows them to stay wired 24/7. Hi-tech has revolutionised our universe. For those born into this era and coming of age to talk of another time is to speak through a time capsule.

People begin to question your sagacity: "What do you mean you do not have a mobile phone?"

Generations before Generation had other experiences and has other reference points. Mobile phones and tablets are mini computers. They are light, compact and easy to use. An advert for iPad shows toddlers using the new technology of drag and click without effort and even without instruction. It is intuitive and almost seems genetic.

Amazon for example is experiencing a boom in selling Kindle. Kindle for those you who do not know offers virtual books online. The advantages are clear. You do not need to carry a truck to read books on safari. However, the tactile relationship between the writer, reader and object is lost. Trust me on this folks there really is a relationship. How do you explain this to younger generations who don't really read or just surf? You can't because it is impossible. Are they loosing out on something? I think they are, but that's a subjective issue.

All these new trends suggest drastic shifts in consumer behaviour and our consumption of media and entertainment products. Recently I journeyed to Las Vegas, and what I saw sort of struck me. A majority of the passengers were hooked into something: an e-book, game, or movie. Or in another case, which I saw in the States is the case of the network Four Square. This social network allows you to let your "friends" know where you are and what you are doing in case they want to join you. Every idea and thought is "shared".

What happened to real bonding, I mean speaking and actually being with a live breathing human being? The excuse we don't have time seems so flimsy, don't you think?

What this points to is the nature of the way we reach out touch each other. In the back of my mind, I feel something is missing as I watch people communicate virtually. It seems like what has rapidly become a cliché: How can you have a billion Facebook connections and no real friends?

No matter. When my plane landed, It took us a good 1h30 to reach the Customs desk. Instead of fidgeting everyone consulted or spoke on their phones or handsets. The legal consequences of using handsets before customs is strictly prohibited. Most people ignore the rule. Perhaps soon the law will follow custom and be dispensed with.

The following day I journeyed to a trade fair I had come to see. The same behavioural pattern unfolded. Everyone was wired. There is almost nowhere you can go today and not be hooked in. Although I am as guilty as the next man, I realise our communitarian addiction. The danger is that there is no longer a demarcation between professional and private life. With this type of invasion of privacy, where do we draw the line?

Is it possible to re-establish a form of equilibrium?

I fear there is no going back. We even share our fetish with our children. Is it any wonder that they become just as addicted as we are?

I guess like with many other "vices" we must learn to exercise constraint and self-control? Is it possible? Do we really want to?

The judgement is out. Time will tell, but the handwriting is on the wall.

About The Author

Emmanuel Kuehn is a Management Consultant, Business Coach & Trainer for both corporate organizations and individuals.

Business Is A Matter Of People
Emmanuel Kuehn | WisePoint