It's fair to say that mobile devices have changed the way we interact with others in our daily life - most would agree that our relationships have changed due to the ever-present temptation of pulling out your phone. With wearables set to boom over the coming year, do we have a real problem on our hands?
I'm probably one of the worst. If I look at my phone usage statistics on a day when i'm away from the office - regardless of what i'm doing - they tell a worrying tale. Screen on time, number of wakes, battery usage, most popular apps... they don't make for pleasant reading, painting a picture of a day spent reading email, keeping up with social networks, messing around with apps, playing the odd game and generally switching off from the world around. In reality, I suspect most of us are guilty of it - surfing around on the phone or tablet while the TV is on, reading tweets while the other half is doing some shopping, picking up the phone at the dinner table perhaps - it's a difficult temptation to resist.
Of course, if we're all doing it, then we don't necessarily notice it as easily - it becomes part of the daily pattern of life. "I've got to send my 'Pocket Trains' off or I don't complete the daily task", just because two of you are doing it in the same place at the same time, it probably doesn't make that a valid social situation, does it...? :)
Wearables add an interesting new slant on this situation. Take a Smartwatch such as my beloved Pebble. When i'm out and about, it means I can keep up with what's happening on my phone (and therefore in my 'online life') without getting it out of my pocket. I'm not sure if it means I use my phone less so i'm more likely to be sociable, or because I feel it's easier to check and less intrusive in a conversation, i'm actually putting more of a social block in place. Have you sat down in a bar with someone with a Smartwatch? The reality is that if they keep glancing at their watch to read notifications (or even if it's just constantly buzzzzzzzzzzzing), it's probably even more intrusive than if they had pulled out their phone.
The same thing applies to Google Glass and 'Smartglasses', perhaps to an even worse degree. When a notification comes in on Glass, a sound is played into your head and it's incredibly tempting just to raise your head to turn on the display and quickly read what's happening. Again, probably incredibly distracting for the person you're with and a whole new social barrier.
As Smartwatches and Smartglasses gain more functionality, this temptation will probably increase. I'm pretty interested to see where wearable technology goes in the near future because I suspect that we'll see the information dissemination that we're seeing increase already happen in new places. What about a smart necklace? Smart bracelet? Smart fridge? Smart table? Certainly more subtle and less obvious Smartglasses and Smartwatches from just about everyone. There's an information epidemic coming our way.
I'm really interested to hear what you guys think about this. Is it actually a problem at all or is it just that we're 'living in the future' and this is what it looks like? If we're all aware that technology is encroaching on our daily lives all the time is that enough to be able to push it back and ensure that we can still master the ancient art of conversation?
As a serial offender when it comes to mobile distractions I would like to think that as new technology emerges we can learn to use it appropriately. :) What do you think?