Go ahead and take a look around you. Tell me, what do you see? Chances are you’ll find people with their heads down. On the street. In the elevator. At a stoplight. Texting. Updating their Facebook status. Tweeting about what they just had for lunch. Recommending a friend on LinkedIn.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to bash social media or modern technology as we know it. In fact, my agency recently launched a comprehensive branding effort for a client that featured a spot running not just on television but across multiple social media channels as well. The results were huge.
I’m well aware of social media's game-changing capabilities. I’ve seen how powerfully and immediately it can connect brands and consumers. I was blown away by what Modernista! and BooneOakley did with their sites. That was truly cutting-edge and cool stuff, which is something you don’t see every day in our business, especially when it comes to agency self-promotion.
Hell, I even met my lovely wife on a social networking site. That is enough to make me a lifelong advocate of the medium.
As I said, I get it when it comes to social media and mobile networking. I just don’t think it’s the same as good old-fashioned face-to-face communication and hands-on real-life interaction. Moreover, I don’t think it ever will be.
Certain things you can never replace, and the value of an intimate face-to-face sit-down is one. The human connection can be replicated over social networks like Facebook or video conferencing services like Skype, but a facsimile is never the same as the real thing.
That’s where this incredible explosion in social media and mobile devices worries me. While I marvel at the power, speed, and creativity inherent in these new technologies, I’m concerned we might all be losing a bit of our ability -- and even more troubling, our desire -- to connect with one another in person. By extension, advertisers and marketers will lose a bit of that talent and skill as well.
Here’s an idea, a humble solution, if you will. Let’s put our mobile devices down for a minute. Let’s pull our hands off our keyboards for a moment. Let’s use more than just our thumbs and fingers. Let’s use our entire hand, preferably the dominant one (though it's been said experimenting with your “off” hand boosts creativity).
Let’s use it to pick up the phone and schedule a lunch meeting. To shake another hand prior to that meeting. To raise a glass in a toast during that meeting. To hand-write a thank-you card after that meeting.
Before you know it, you might even be using it to sign an agency of record agreement or high-five a partner.
Sorry, but there’s just no app for that.