Discussion about

June 26th 2014 3:34 pm

Are we too connected to the internet?

This is going to sound a bit luddite, please hear me out, but I think we may need to re-evaluate our "need" to be on top of everything going on around us. I started to get this feeling after watching the Android Wear demos and exploring all the different watches currently available. If you go back and re-watch the onstage demo, and look at any press shots or hands on, every image shows it receiving a notification. They range from things like email and text to flight information. Now, I won't say that being up to date on flight information is a bad idea, but I think you need to use something that isn't a once a year (or less) affair for a majority of people. Perhaps the most ridiculous example used was the one with ordering a pizza. If you're not familiar, or missed it, the presenter got a reminder on their watch about how they ordered pizza around that same time a week ago.

I'm not going to try and discredit the engineers' intentions of allowing us to perform actions faster, but I am having trouble getting on board with the need to have notifications bombard our wrist. For one, things like pizza reminders or flight reminders are just a bit siloed. Additionally, is it that bad if we don't instantly see a text message or email notification? I've seen the argument that these will help with meetings, but have you seen these watch faces? They're big, colorful and bright -- they're not exactly going to be inconspicuous if they light up during a meeting.

I may be mixing up my confusion over how wearables fit into our life a bit here, but I think this thinking does go hand in hand. Every app automatically bombards you with notifications, and according to Google the result is us checking our phones (and soon wrists) over 100 times a day. I frankly think that is a bit of an issue, and not necessarily from a social aspect but more so from the vein of creating a false sense of importance or busyness.

sort by

6 replies

A while ago a programmer friend once mentioned how phone calls were interrupt-based, while texts and emails were poll-based. That is, you had to stop what you were doing to pick up the phone and take the call now, while with texts and emails you checked it and answered it when you were ready to do so. But with the advent of smartphones the paradigm has sort of shifted, and we seem to expect people to answer their emails and texts quickly, if not immediately. This seems to have transformed texts and emails into interrupt-based communication (thus the picking up of phones constantly in social gatherings). Smartwatches only seem to complete that transformation, pushing it even further.

If we started texting and emailing out of politeness, and now that's gone, what's our excuse? I can't help but wonder if people will go back to making phone calls. Of course, taking a call at the dinner table is super rude, way more conspicuous than texting at the dinner table (since you're "interrupting" everyone else's reverie). But I have this feeling we're not far from "I wish there was some way you could text someone with your voice, and they could like, hear you, and respond with their voice right away."

I am already shaking my cane hard in anticipation. I need a lawn to tell them to get off of.
5 like dislike

Maybe, but look at this:

We already have this problem. Maybe a smart watch will allow people to be more "attentive" by not having to pull out their phone and swipe a few times, instead just glance down at your wrist? I don't know. But teh internets is so positively ingrained into my daily life that I don't feel the desire to scale back.
2 like dislike

People will still pull out their phones to do more than just glance at their watches.
1 like dislike

I actually disagree with this. A friend of mine has recently purchased a pebble and in social situations he interacts a lot less with his phone than he did previously. Also the watch interactions are more discreet.
3 like dislike

Get better friends!
1 like dislike

I think the notifications are only one part of what smart watches and wearables will provide. I hope that wearables will move in the direction of fitness/health trackers more than the "hey you missed this thing" that we are seeing now. I hope that the notification obsession that we are seeing is just the beginning of what these devices can do. Otherwise, it would be a sad, sad world if we strap a computer to our wrist or our face just so we don't have to pull our phone out of our pocket.
1 like dislike