“Being ‘connected’ sucks,” he says. “It is highly overrated and getting old fast.”
Well, I might suggest that being connected doesn’t necessarily suck, but being over-connected certainly has its drawbacks. Do I need my cell phone? Yes, it is my main point of immediate contact for my business. Do I need to have it on and have the Bluetooth dongle in my ear 24/7? Certainly not. Do I need to Twitter everything I do just because I can? No way. (In fact, I had been using it as another way to broadcast my blog posts, but ya know what? That’s just too much of a pain in the ass and I’ve got work to do. But I have been considering extreme, absurd Twittering just so I can let anyone who cares know that I just took a leak or I’m picking my nose right now. Oops, you missed it.)
There were some surprisingly negative responses to David’s very valid argument. But I think the bottom line is that we should recognize technology and the connectivity it gives us for what it is: a tool that allows us to be more productive. When it starts making us less productive, it’s time to turn it off. Like a kid given free reign at the candy store after having never before tasted sugar, we’re a society that doesn’t know when to say enough is enough.
And sometimes, even when you do need to be connected, you just gotta turn it off. Go outside and play. Catch up on your reading. Play with the kids. Take the dog for a walk. (Just don’t Twitter it.) It’s good practice for when the power goes out for real.
And now that I’m self-employed I have no problem doing those things when it does. It makes me realize just how tweaked we as a society have become that we don’t know what to do with ourselves when the power goes out. When I was working for the man I felt so compelled to be productive every minute of my day, and we were so “connected” while doing our jobs, that it felt like we couldn’t get anything done even when (gasp!) the Internet went down.
David’s second point directly supports an aspect of marketing I feel strongly about: utility. He states that this level of ADHC is making marketing more difficult. Rather—and I think David may have coined a new marketing term here—
…the solution for marketers is to steer into the skid. Marketing that appears next to content will get ignored. Marketing is going to have to become deeply integrated into the communication platforms.
What does that have to do with utility, you might ask? Perhaps the most effective way for marketers to incorporate their message into the content is to make it useful, provide some value. As a marketer with a journalism background, I see real potential for conflict here, but I also see potential to make marketing a useful tool for the customer. (I feel compelled to admit that even I, here on this blog, have missed the mark in successfully incorporating advertising in to this publication and have fallen prey to just how easy it is to simply tack on traditional, questionably effective advertising components.)
But just because utility can be more effective, it doesn’t mean that all businesses or organizations are willing to embrace it just yet. I’m not sure if it’s the same on a national level, but here in the small community in which I live and work—a relatively business- and tech-savvy community though it is—it’s often difficult to get small businesses and non-profits to embrace interactive online marketing and break out of the old habit of simply placing print ads in the local paper and calling it good. That said, it is a community where putting in face time, whether pressing the flesh in a business environment or simply being an active community member, is still a very effective way to get business done.
I think part of what David is getting at here is authenticity. We owe it to each other and ourselves to turn down the volume a bit. We’ll all feel better and less harried if we learn to disconnect and simply slow down. But—and this is the other part of what he’s saying—as marketing channels become increasingly fragmented, and not everyone is going to slow down, we as marketers need to learn to reach and engage our audience in new and innovative ways.