Unsocial Media: Captured by our smartphones

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Wednesday evening at the Sandton Gautrain station around 1800. I get to the platform and it’s rush hour, people from work going home. I stand on the side of the platform and I just observe people streaming onto the platform.

Without fail, 9 out of 10 pulled out their smartphones and start staring at small screens of their devices while waiting for the train.

It may be that this is to pass time while waiting for the train but research says that we touch or check our phones 150 times a day [Actions like typing, tapping, and swiping the phone’s screen counted as a “touch”]

The habit of constantly checking our phones is not entrenched in us that we also look at our phones when we are at a dinner date or hanging out with friends or family.

Others excuse themselves by going to the restrooms so that they can check their phones without being noticed.

We are constantly connected which means we are constantly distracted.

What do we really present when we are on Facebook? We are presenting an idealistic life, perfect parenting, great relationships, checking in at slow-lounges at airports, pictures of popular venues, we hardly present our real life and its challenges because that doesn’t give us a lot of likes.

We post our pictures with the hope of getting likes because that makes us feel good.

We have turned our lives into a popularity contest of likes and followers. If you have less followers on social media, it means you are less influential and therefore less important.

There is an emotional turmoil within us that somehow equates our number of likes with our self-esteem.

We are our own PR companies always working on increasing our popularity numbers.

Social media is a front we put showing happy highlights.

This is who we really are in real life:

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And this is what we present on Facebook:

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I think we would all live life better if we have real hands to hold rather than keys to click.

Social media has become a stage where people live most of their lives on and their real lives and challenges are just background stage.

I’m not sure there is any number of Facebook likes that can replace a hug.

Life is what happens while you are looking at your smartphone.

Unsocial Media: Addiction

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Texting, e-mail, the number of likes we collect, the ding, the buzz or the flash of our phones that tells us “You’ve got mail,” feels amazing.

We associate this feeling with, “ooh, something for me” with getting a text or e-mail or the like.

Some people have formed neural connections that drive them to carry out phones in their hands at all the times, often looking down and hitting refresh a few times, even though nothing has come in.

According to the Statistics Portal, as of 2016, daily social media usage of global internet users amounted to 118 minutes per day, up from 109 daily minutes in the previous year.

On average people spent almost 2 hours per day on social media worldwide.

It is said that if you wake up in the morning and the first thing you crave for is a drink, you might be an alcoholic.

If you wake up in the morning and the first thing you do is check your phone to read e-mail or scan through your social media before you even get out of bed, you might be addicted.

Craving a hit of chemical feel good, we repeat the behaviours that we know can produce that hit.

In the case of alcohol or gambling, we are aware of it. In the case of our love of our devices and social, we are less aware of the addictive qualities.

If your phone is constantly about to die, then maybe it’s not the phone that has a problem.

If you happiness levels are determined by the number of followers you have, likes and re-tweets you have on your updates, then may be you are addicted.

If you get upset because someone un-friended or un-followed you, then you may have a problem.

In the era before social media, people coped with stress and loneliness by being addicted to scotch or smoked pot, or gambling.

Today people are addicted to social media as a way of getting some sense of personal worthiness.

Just ask yourself. Will you be able to spend the whole weekend without checking Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform?

If your answer is no, or a doubtful yes, then you might want to analyse whether or not you are addicted to social media.

A person gets withdrawal symptoms and starts to sulk when their phones battery is flat and they don’t have a charger around. The fact that they don’t have a charger around is a crisis to them, not necessarily because someone may want to contact them, but because of fear of missing out on the social platform.

Trending on social media is a national sport, to an extent that people/organisations get paid to get events to trend, some even have “war rooms” tasked with getting certain information to trend.

A person would rather forget his trousers at home than forget his phone for the day.

People consume television shows with social media. One without the other is incomplete.

People walk or drive with their faces buried on small screen devices, they eat while checking out their social media feeds, some take pictures of the food they are eating and post them, they are in meetings with their phones, they are in the restrooms with their phones.

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Facebook may make it seem like we are more connected, but it is severely weakening those interpersonal connections of people around you. Social media has created an illusion of connectivity.

So, what is the big solution?

Lower your smartphone usage and take a more long-term view on life.

Don’t keep your phone on your desk in a meeting, face-up or face-down.

No cellphone in meetings or dinner table.

Charge it in your living room, not by your bed while you sleep at night.

Engage with the people around you, don’t sit there texting your friends.

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People are good. They are funny and nice and sweet, [well, not the bad ones] but you will never know until you personally interact with some in front of you. without your phone.

Shut the door

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Successful relationships are those where that are only two people involved in it. To be intimate in a relationship means shutting the door to outsiders and focusing on your partners.

The absolute hardest part of having a secret life with God is not allowing ourselves to be distracted by other things.

In a technologically driven world, distractions are constant. It is normal to get phone calls, text messages, e-mails, app updates, and calendar reminders all at the same time.

It is normal nowadays to have headphones in your ear, a laptop open on the desk, the phone by your side, your tablet in next to your laptop, and friends all around you.

Distractions are part of life today, so for many the idea of being alone in a room with God, whom we cannot see, seems far-fetched.

Yet the men and women who have shaken the world are those who found a place of solitude with God.

Successful relationships only happen when you shut down all forms of distractions and noise in the world and focus on your partner.

Shut the door and become one of those voices who shakes nations.

The distractions today maybe normal for us, but they are unprecedented compared with previous generations.

Our Bibles are on our smartphones. If this is the case, maybe you should put your phone on airplane mode while you are in the secret place. Otherwise while you are reading a passage of Scripture that is speaking to your soul, a text message from your friend will pop up, and you will be derailed from meeting with God.

We need to wake up and realize that God is not a mystical being.

He is a person who longs for fellowship with His people.

Once you get the door shut to your secret place, you have won half the battle.

Shut the door, keep the noise out of your relationship with God and you are half-way there.

Marketing honesty, trust and respect

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A friend’s car got involved in an accident and he is struggling to get the insurance to pay up due to some small loophole in the contract.

I always get calls from banks offering me credit card facilities with huge credit limit, or get letters offering me overdraft or loans.

These friendly call centre agents who are just doing their job to sell you something, will not be there when you miss one installment, instead you will be harassed by collection people who are not so friendly.

What would happen if your friends and colleagues treated you the way marketers do?

What if your spouse sold your personal information to anyone who would pay for it?

If your boss promised you miraculous changes and then failed to deliver?

If your colleagues at work refused to talk to you unless you spent half an hour on hold first?

During a mentorship session this past week, I discussed the concept of values with my mentee. Treating your customers with respect and having their best interest at heart is the core of a caring entrepreneur. Always be truthful and sincere.

Instead of seeing people as a means to an end in marketing your business, how about we see them as human beings who needs caring.

Love people, use things. The opposite never works.

What if the people you liked and trusted made promises to you in order to get your attention and cooperation, and then broke those promises whenever they could get away with it?

Most of us would not choose to work with people who disrespect us as much as marketers do.

Most of us would not choose a career where everything we interact with is prettied up, made to look amazing and once you sign up, you get dumbed down.

Why do we hate marketers so much?

We don’t just hate them. We ignore them. We distrust them. When a marketer calls you on the phone to sell you some insurance or, slimming products, we look for an excuse to drop the phone.

Marketers use people as a means to an end. What is important is what they get in return [a sale, commission, income] not what is in the best interest of the client.

The client is secondary in the mind of a marketer.

In fact, when a marketer actually keeps his promise to us, we are so surprised we tell everyone we know.

I got a call yesterday from a company that wanted to “confirm my order”. When I returned the call, I discovered that there was no confirming… it was just a come-on from a company I had never heard from to sell me something new. [I would get free lunch if I came to their offices].

Somewhere along the way, marketers stopped acting like real people. They substituted a new set of ethics, one built around “buyer beware” and the letter of the law.

Marketers, in order to succeed in a competitive marketplace, decided to see what they could get away with instead of what they could deliver.

As businesses have become commodities, many of them have decided that respect is the first thing they can no longer afford. If you have ever been put on hold by a cell phone company, you know the feeling.

One sales executive confided in me last week:

“After we sell you an account, we never ever want to hear from you again. If we hear from you, it is bad news.” Hey, it is just business.

The few successful marketers we hear about again and again are all on our short list because they still show their customers respect. Apple, good car sales agents, none of them talk down to their audience in order to score a sale.

When I started working, I had a sales agent say to me that instead of giving me a ballon payment deal on my first car, how about I save money for three months and pay a good deposit on my car. He was willing to wait for three or four for me to save for a good deposit instead of selling the car on a huge ballon payment so that he can score the deal and make commission now.

Such marketers and sales are scarce today.

The magic kicks in when marketers are smart enough and brave enough to combine trust with respect.

When a marketer does not trick you with smooth talking and manipulate you on the way to a retail establishment, or trusts you to make intelligent decisions, you remember it.

Today marketing and advertising is about manipulating customers to buy and finding the first excuse or loophole to get out of a contract.

The number of companies that keep promises to their customers, respect their intelligence and keep their promises, is quite tiny.

Of course, this means that a huge opportunity exists. It means that if you seek the very best slice of the market (the individuals and companies that can spend money, wisely, on new things) you will likely do best if you let go of the trickery, manipulation, misdirection and pandering and instead focus on customers that will embrace a realistic and honest approach to doing business.

RULE ONE: Smart marketers treat their customers like respected colleagues and admired family members.

Now, apparently, it’s okay if a company reneges on an insurance claim, apparently it’s okay for an insurance company to rip you off on your claim as long as there is a loophole.

If an organisation makes a promise, then keeps it, delight kicks in.

Eric Mashale talks about branding not a a logo, or how you look or how cool you sound, he says branding is the promise you make and keep.

If a manager or an employee or a co-worker takes an extra minute or jumps through an extra hoop to honor a commitment to you, it is something you will remember for a long time, precisely because it is such a rare occurrence.

So there is the real opportunity… to follow in the footsteps of the great marketers by reclaiming the interactions that used to be commonplace.

Be real, be trustworthy, be genuinely interested, be honest, be vulnerable, and let your clients know that they truly matter.

Have the courage to make promises and keep them. Do more than you promised, not what the contract says. Assume your colleagues are smart, and show leadership by respecting their work as if it were your own.

RULE TWO: Treat your colleagues the way a smart marketer would. With respect. And keep your promises.

You want loyalty? Treat your customers with honesty, trust and respect.

Quit: Not the Same as Failing

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To quit is not the same as failing.

Strategic quitting is a conscious decision you make based on the choices that are available to you.

My personal test is fairly simple and straight-forward:

If you realise you are at a dead end compared with what you could be investing in, quitting is not only a reasonable choice, it is smart one.

Failing, on the other hand, means that your dream is over.

Failing happens when you give up, when there are no other options, or when you quit so often that you have used up all your time and resources.

It is easy to throw your hands about becoming a failure.

Quitting smart, though, is a great way to avoid failing.

When Thomas Edison says I found 1000 ways it didn’t work, he meant he quit 1000 times ways to get the light bulb to work but did not fail, because he didn’t gave the adventure, he gave up on the different paths but stayed the course.

Know this difference is knowing the difference between quitting and failing.

Quit: Coping is a lousy alternative to Quitting

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Coping is what people do when they try to muddle and limp through.

They cope with a bad job or difficult task.

The problem with coping is that it never leads to exceptional performance.

Mediocre work is rarely because of a lack of talent and often because of the Cul-de-Sac.

All coping does is waste your time and misdirect your energy.

If the best you can do is cope, you are better off quitting.

Quitting is better than coping because quitting frees you up to excel at something else.

Quit: The Noise Inside Your Head

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Right at this moment, my clairvoyance tells me you are having a conversation that involves a lot of rationalisation.

You are explaining to yourself why those Cul-de-Sac on the read you are in are not really dead ends [they are.]

You are busy defending the mediocre work your company does because it is the best you can do under the circumstances [it is not.]

You don’t want to quit, it is not fun, it is not easy, so you haven’t. But you should. You must.

Or, you could just settle for being average.

The longer you stay, the more average you become.

Sometimes quitting the average is the smartest move you can make.