I think Steve Jobs saw the iPhone as a way to enhance your environment … now your phone is your environment.

by John Murray, III

Today I would like to share a recent realization I had, which might be useful for those of us engaged in business — or anyone else who might interact with anyone lately. 

I am not trying to be like your grandparents here, but I need to talk seriously about what I am seeing — and not just with the young people (defined to me as under 30). 

I also see evidence of this in older-than-30 people. Everyone’s brains are becoming organized like their iPhones. Quick exercise right now. Double press your phone’s “home” button.  It will show you all the programs you currently have open. You might have 6, 12, 24 — who knows how many open at once. 

You are not making progress on all of them, but they are all open and “running in the background.”  How does this apply to daily life? 

I have found through with managing people, interacting with people, and just going through life in general, is that people are distracted. 

Whether you are asking someone to do something in your store, and it doesn’t get finished, or trying to talk with someone, their phone is buzzing/dinging/blinking.

Whatever is on that phone — for many people — has intrinsically more value than the real-world things that are transpiring around them. 

It manifests itself in these two major ways: tasks not getting completed, and people not fully grasping what is happening in front of them.

Sadly, you have many car accidents caused by a new email from a department store instead of watching the road. 

I often ask myself if Steve Jobs would still have invented the iPhone if he knew how glued humans would become to it. I think he saw it as a way to enhance your environment, add a little Bob Dylan to the background as you are gardening or taking a walk.  Now your phone is your environment. Everything else just happens around it.

 I saw a news story that people’s bodies are evolving to reflect hunching over a smart phone. 

Why?  Why am I still reading this, John? If I wanted a rant I could go over my in-laws for dinner!  As business people, we need to be aware of this new reality. It effects managing people. As the supervisor, you have to also focus yourself on what needs to be achieved that day. Go with an “old school” to-do list. Write it down! It feels great to cross it off with a pen, not your finger on your phone.

Secondly,  when I hire young people here I tell them that they are going to be unplugged when they are here.  They are going to learn the art of talking/interacting/reading/responding to people.

I often worry that if we don’t realize what is going on here soon, and learn how to focus back on “old school” interaction, attention span, and diction, we will all end up as people who can’t read or write and have an attention span of 0 seconds.

Unplug! Unplug now! Especially when your focus should be on a non-digital task at hand.

Bill Gates used to say he would take a week off from all humanity. He would grab all the magazines and newspapers he could get his hands on and do nothing else but sit and think about where humanity is going and innovate new products for the future.

Sit. Think. Unplug. Good things will happen.