The New Comfort Zone

December 18, 2012

I quit like technology. I’m not the biggest fan in the room I think but I love how it gives people room for inspiration, creativity and freedom. Going from the liberating possibilities Xbox SmartGlass can bring not only on gaming but on content streaming and engaging features; to rebels in Syria who build a tank themselves controlling the machine gun with a PlayStation remote.

However I have blogged before how it easily can make us so dependent and even lame; and when I see digital campaigns like this, no matter how creative their idea may be, it makes me sad to see how relying people can have become on their phone, rather than their human skills. I makes me believe people in the future can’t even go take a dump anymore without their iPhone signalling them when they are allowed to ‘drop one’ into the bowl. Then again, I don’t believe in those kinds of campaigns, but it certainly doesn’t go the right direction. As everybody knows, I have a major interest in human behaviour and emotions and I always strived for them to flourish in a good way for as many people as possible. I love technology when it enables people to do so. I definitely don’t when I see what kind of slaves we have or can become of modern technology.

And even when I acknowledge all the possibilities and advantages, I still can be a nostalgic old wanker. For example, I try to read quit a lot. Yet I have no interest at all buying myself a Kindle or another tablet to read this material on. I see all that’s great about the device: it’s a lot cheaper, you always have all your books with you (when finishing one, immediately jump to the next one), it’s extremely light and it almost fits in your pocket … There’s no rational reason if you like to read, not to jump on board of this brilliant new phase in consuming literature. Yet I prefer real books. I love to hold them in my hand, see how far I’m progressing during the read, look and feel the paper and the (mostly) paperback cover, appreciate the design and have them all on my bookshelf. The same applies for me still buying CD’s every week and playing Vinyl (and even cassettes …. fucking cassettes! – Oh that underground music life …).

Now, explaining why a pure rational approach for device usage and product consumption is completely the wrong and most stupid way of launching and communicating something new upon the market; is for another blog post. Here, I’d like to consider: myself. For somebody who has always hoped to be involved in what’s happening NOW and not looking back into the past, I hold on some things quit a lot contrary to my peers I think. I barely use my smartphone, buy real music and books, enjoy finding my way in a new city with a paper map or my intuition way better than some device helping me, I’m not so good in keeping touch with all my friends and family back home because I still prefer a good traditional talk at the bar with a beer, rather than email, SMS or Skype … etc. The list goes on. It is actually one of my biggest fears in life, that one day I’ll become that conservative old man that has no clue what the world has become and what people are actually doing and thinking.

Having this given some thoughts; at first, I always assumed it was a bad thing, especially for me working in an industry that always tries to keep up with every latest bit of communication possibilities and technology. But after given this some more thought, I couldn’t be happier with this assumption. Why? Because human motivation and emotions barely change and definitely do not change as quickly as technology does, despite what everybody always wants to believe. Internet ads are as much as ignored as print or TV ads, increasing numbers in mobile usage doesn’t mean at all increasing numbers in mobile branded engagement.

Because me holding a CD and a real book in my hand, constantly reminds me of the irrational dominating strengths over the rational cues, when people consume products. Because for me travelling and finding my way without the use of a device, reminds me of what real intrinsic human motivations are: openness to the world, strong excitement of what may come, curiosity, positive reinforcement when you find something yourself without any external aid … Because me being sceptical about whether a new device or application truly improves our lives or whether it just ships us of towards mental retardation, may – just may – help me out in my job and this industry.

To me, it’s a constant reminder of where we come from, who we truly are and how we operate. I’m afraid technology has the ability to create this new kind of (tech) comfort zone. Which is an even more dangerous one that the ‘normal’ one. The zone where we completely rely on ‘the machines’, just like in The Matrix. And it’s good to fight it. To keep ourselves “hungry and foolish”.

No matter where technology will bring us (and I strongly believe it will bring us far), real human behaviour and motivations only adapt slowly – very slowly. And without understanding that, you’ll arrive nowhere.

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