Do we fight technology or work with it as it changes our behavior (or is it changing our behavior at all?)

I’ve had Brian Solis’s new book - The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolutionon my shelf for a few months now, so I’m diving in (and he’s conveniently structured it with short chapters, which are greatly appreciated!).  The first chapter dove right into the idea of how technology has fundamentally changed the way we as people and as consumers have changed our habits and the way we receive and process information.

…people are balancing virtual and real-world relationships in the moment.

The constant desire for interaction comes down to shared experiences and staying connected. The truth is that we’re always on.

Where’s the balance?…how can this be used more productively?

I find myself revisiting a widely accepted notion: technology changes, people don’t. But nowadays, I’m not so sure. Technology is indeed changing, but it is also changing us along with it…we are learning to live our lives online, revealing a bit more about ourselves with every status update, check-in, tweet, and social object we publish….Technology is changing us, and as it does, it can improve how we learn, share, and communicate.”


He continues by suggesting that we should not fight this trend, but rather work with it:

…it is the responsibility of the host to realize the changing nature of human interaction to not discourage outside interaction, but to steer the experience to include everyone in one’s own way…to create moments that are nothing short of engaging.

Using an anecdote from his own experiences, he describes how he was out to dinner with several colleagues, who were all, at one point, buried in their phones.  Instead of forcing people to put their phones away and starting conversations “on other topics,” Solis instead recognized that the device was likely not going away and took steps to incorporate that process into the conversation by having his colleagues ask questions of those they were connecting with through their devices:

It was the beginning of a realization for me. If I could steer experiences, I could connect with people at the table as well as those they’re engaging with on the other side of the device.

The trajectory of the book is to then take this thought-process into how we act as businesses, organizations etc in reaching out audiences.  While I greatly respect this shift in the business world – realizing how to maximize this shift in behavior with consumers – I struggle with how realistic it is for our personal lives, etc.

My husband recently sent me a CNN article on “The Rise of Nomophobia: More people fear loss of mobile contact and even I, who’s connected, said to myself “this is something I need to fix.” Will it be simply accept to move beyond the no-eye-contact conversations, the distracted discussions, and the anxious panic of a device-less moment? Is that a shift we should be encouraging on a personal level, a healthy one for society? Can we honestly say that it’s ok that virtual connections are slowly taking the place of in-person connections?

Technology is changing us, and as it does, it can improve how we learn, share, and communicate,”

I don’t have an answer to this per se, and at the moment I’m leaning towards the “no” side for the above questions…. but it’s something interesting to think of.  WHAT DO YOU THINK?

  • Brandon Croke

    Thanks for sharing those summaries and takeaways Kate. I think these questions and the general dialogue around “how is technology changing inter and intra personal relationships” is one of the most important questions to aks, yet few “social media types” seem to be leading the dialogue. 

    After reading The Shallows – what the internet is doing to our brains and Alone Together – why we expect more from technology and less from eachother, I’ve found myself wondering whether all of this connectivity is leading to more happiness, justice and meaning in life or whether it’s just another shallow distraction. 

    In my opinion if you work in higher ed and social media in any capacity we should be asking these “deeper questions.” If not us, who?

  • Kate Brodock


    Firstly, apologies for the delayed response. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

    I agree, this is an important question! I’m going to check out these books, they sound great.

    I also think it’s good to be asking these questions of the generations that may be more deeply entrenched than even you or I. They may not even *know* to ask….