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Is a Backlash Against Smartphones and Social Media on the Horizon?

Social Sonar - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Did you catch this video a few weeks ago? It quickly made its way around the Internet and became a viral hit with smartphone owners who recognized their own anxiety at the thought of making it through the day without their favorite mobile device.

The video features friends at parties, restaurants and at outdoor get-togethers opting to engage in the mediated social connections available through their phones and disregarding the social connections they could be making in person.

Sound familiar? With social media at your fingertips, it can be hard to put your phone aside, focus on the present moment and disconnect from the ever-present fear that you might be missing out on something else.

The sight of friends and family experiencing and observing a birthday party through the screen in their palm is more than a little dystopian, and it seems like the Internet agrees that we’re at a crucial point when it comes to considering the role of technology in our lives.

With more than 23 million views on YouTube, it’s clear that the makers of this short film have really struck a chord with people. More than one person who commented on the video vowed to stay off their phone for a while-- a smartphone sabbatical, if you will. Louis CK’s own thoughts on smartphones also went viral, showing how many people relate to the idea of living in a culture of distractions often provided by smartphones.

With more people questioning the way in which Internet connectivity is becoming more integrated into our daily lives, could there be a social media backlash brewing?

One thing's for certain, mobile devices aren’t going anywhere. In fact, some are even suggesting that there could be more mobile devices than people before the year is out! Take a moment to let that sink in. On a planet populated by billions of people, there would be more portals to engage in social media than there are actual human beings.  

If you think smartphones are ubiquitous now, just wait. As they continue to lower in price, they’ll become even more accessible to people from different walks of life, not just those with disposable income. Some companies are even flirting with the idea of free smartphones, although the idea of what constitutes “free” is more than a little bit tricky. Wearable technology will also increase people’s access to the Internet wherever they go, augmenting their experience of daily life and creating cyborg-like citizens that confirm the worst fears of luddites. 

Of course, what we are talking about when it comes to “intentional” social media use is really a cultural issue. While the rise of mobile technology is predictable, it’s harder to predict how people will respond to it. Will we embrace the integration of more technology into our lives by living in virtually altered presentations of the world around us? Will we modify our bodies to be closer to the technology that lets us connect with others through the Internet?

Taking a break from social media and mobile technology can be a healthy goal. But small business owners can’t ignore that it’s an integral part of their overall marketing strategy. The reach, level of interaction and sustained connectivity it offers is just too great to pass on when it comes to building a strong brand. Like other useful technological advancements that have helped entrepreneurs broaden their reach, it’s important to reach a balance.

Target the time you spend online by setting and following clear intentions when you log on. Set time limits for yourself when you’re on social media to force yourself to be more productive. For some suggestions on how to maximize your time online, you can follow our advice for avoiding the slippery slope down the social media rabbit hole.

Consider creating zero-tech zones for your friends and family where you promise to set aside your smartphones for a designated amount of time and focus on fully engaging with one another in person. You’ll be ahead of the curve when it comes to appreciating and making the most of online and real-time social connections. Your business and your personal life will be all the better for it!

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