My favorite ride at Disneyland is “Its A Small World” which features a cute song and thousands of puppets that portray the peoples of the world. I’m delighted that my nieces and nephew liked it so much they wanted to go on it a second time. Fortunately, there was no line and we even stayed in the same waterboat.
As we entered the ride and heard the music playing, I could hear a woman in the row behind me take out her cell phone and call someone. That’s right. In the middle of the ride, she calls someone. Then she hands to phone to each family member on the ride so they could talk to grandma or whoever was the mystery caller.
I couldn’t believe that she felt it was more important to call someone than to experience the ride — and to interrupt her family’s experience of the ride to talk to someone.
Couldn’t she wait until the ride was over? For pete’s sake, the lines at Disney are long enough that you could call everyone in your phone book while killing time on a ride! But no, she had to call DURING the ride.
Wait a second, folks, I’m not ranting here. Well, I am, but I really have a point to make and it is probably the most important point I’ll make all year. I’m that serious.
Because of what she did and when she did it, I finally realized that we are undergoing a sea change in communications.
For her, it was MORE important to SHARE the experience with someone who was not there than to enjoy the experience as presented by the provider, Disney. She could have called grandma before the ride or after the ride, but no, she felt it was important for grandma to hear the music and maybe even see a photo if her cell phone was equipped with a camera (aren’t they all?) AND to have her children talk to grandma during the experience.
For her, this phone call ENHANCED the experience! (Forget my displeasure in overhearing the conversation. I think we can all agree that cell phone users don’t care what happens to people around them who can listen in on their private calls).
I’m not sure what to make of her, frankly. But I do see her as the point person for a new trend that is changing human interaction (I told you this would be heavy).
The signs were all around me and I failed to see them for what they really were:
I’ve seen people like her at baseball games who will call their friends at home to tell them they are at the game.
I’ve seen people like her at baseball games who will call their friends who are AT the game and stand up and wave to them — with their backs to the field so they can’t even see the game!
I’ve been a maniac in thinking these people were rude rubes who have no life.
But I made the mistake of lumping the people who drive their car and talk on the cell phone along with the people in the waiting rooms who talk at the top of their lungs with the people who are at an event and make a phone call.
Now I realize that I’ve missed the landmark a hundred times over.
These people are creating their own experience with their friends and families by using their cell phones.
I’m not sure what to make of this. Are they self-centered egotists? Are they so family oriented they block out the world? Are they bragging to their friends that they are here and you are not? Are they sharing the experience with a bed-ridden relative who can take pleasure in the event because they are being thought of at this very precious moment?
I really don’t know. All I know is that something BIG is going on and it will affect everything we do.
We are becoming a cell phone nation and its implications for changing human interaction is huge.
Your Fearless PR LEADER
PR LEADS Expert Resource Network
You are absolutely right about this being a huge shift in the way we see and “enhance” the present moment!
As a mindfulness trainer, I have taught thousands of people how to pay attention, and this becomes increasingly difficult when we have tools that so quickly take us OUT of the moment. Sure, we can share the ride with Grandma, but what this woman was teaching her children in that moment is that what is happening RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE is not as important as connecting to someone SOMEPLACE ELSE.
I’ve got kids living around the globe, so I certainly appreciate the value of being able to connect so readily. However, we must pay attention to what we are teaching our kids when we choose to talk to someone else while we’re attending their concert or other event. Are we sharing…or simply being distracted? Will we remember the phone conversation more than the actual event?
Mindlessness is our culture’s most malevolent malady. Overworking, overspending, overeating and overdoing in general are a direct result of not paying attention. The interesting thing is that the more attached we are to the idea of “sharing” an experience instead of “experiencing” the experience, the more likely it is that we will end up feeling frustrated, exhausted and disconnected!
Thanks for bringing this up, Dan.
It isn’t just the cell phone. It’s the internet, DVDs recorders, podcasting, downloading of songs and movies, and the like.
What it means is that the individual is more important than the corporation (in business) or the organization (Disney entertainment) or the family!
And the human connection element is based upon what the individual needs and wants in the moment.
These are the basic building blocks of the Creative Economy that we now live in. What you noticed or saw for the first time is the behaviors of the Creative Economy — and how dramatically we have shifted into something brand new.
Welcome to this side of the truly “new economy!”