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Anna Papachristos | June 26, 2013

Why We Can't Sit Still

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9226fe668be697473be04bc96c36dcd0.jpgMarketers and IT professionals constantly express their concern over Big Data, yet they neglect to realize that consumers are being bombarded by information, as well. From Facebook and Twitter, to email and text messages, the average human cannot seem to escape the ever-present flow of words and images. Whether we're reading articles or watching YouTube videos, one bit of content usually trickles into another until we have distanced ourselves so far from our initial intent that we cannot even remember what we set out to do--almost like walking to the kitchen and forgetting why you're there.

Just as Linda Stone discusses in her recent interview with The Atlantic, we live in a world where our attention is often pulled in multiple directions at once. "What we're doing now is modeling a primary relationship with screens, and a lack of eye contact with people," Stone says. "It ultimately can feed the development of a kind of sociopathy and psychopathy." Technology tends to distract from the moment we're in, drawing our focus to the screen, not those in our immediate company. Many cannot sit still for long without reaching for their mobile device so as to make sure they're not missing out on anything happening in the social sphere. But, as Stone highlights, the tide might be turning.

"A couple years ago, after a fire in my house, I had a couple students coming to help me," Stone explains. "One of them was Gen X and one was a Millennial. If the Gen Xer's phone rang or if she got a text, she would say, "I'm going to take this, I'll be back in a minute." With the Millennial, she would just text back "L8r." When I talked to the Millennial about it, she said, "When I'm with someone, I want to be with that person." I am reminded of this new thing they're doing in Silicon Valley where everyone sticks their phone in the middle of the table, and whoever grabs their phone first has to treat to the meal."

Marketers (and anyone else in contact with the general public, for that matter) must understand how the average consumer not only interacts with their brand, but also the world as a whole. They must comprehend that everyone has messages filtering in from every channel and that, in many cases, this influx triggers overload and fatigue. Knowing this will help all those in the marketing and customer service space better align their strategies with the average consumers' usage so they limit their risk of driving potential and current customers past their threshold into an area of frustration and distrust.

To learn more about how the Internet and these emerging technologies are impacting the human brain, check out the video below:

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