A Culture Disturbed
It finally happened. In a world where mobile phone manufacturers have made every innovation in order to ensure that we are “forever accessible”, one of the world’s leading mobile phone manufacturers (Apple) actually had the foresight necessary to recognize that the world is getting tired of being accessible. They actually realize, perhaps, that sometimes you can’t be – or just don’t want to be – accessed.
Apple is releasing a “Do no disturb” feature on its iPhone offering, allowing users to adjust their phone settings to block incoming calls, texts, emails, notifications, weather updates, tweets, and status changes.
It’s brilliant, and long overdue. Apple is betting on the fact that in this world of continual accessibility, some will decide that it’s okay not to be accessible for a few minutes out of every day (though most at first will – allowing adjustment time – choose between 2:25am and 3:18am as their “Do not disturb” period.
My first thought, admittedly, was:
“WOW!!! So… I can just hit a button? And I’m free? I can adjust settings in nine seconds, and I would have complete and absolute liberation? I could go through an evening with my children, and not see a notice inviting me to “like” a friend’s friend’s Facebook page on beaver dam spelunking? Well this changes everything!!!!”
My second thought?
“Wait…. I have an “Off” function. This application is stupid. This does nothing more than turn my phone off. The only real benefit is that I don’t have to wait for the damned thing to power up again. And this is innovation?
That brings me, of course, to my third thought. And it brings me to a recognition that this is, indeed, huge:
This application has with it a potential cultural shift. Of course, we could all turn our phones off, automatically enabling a perfectly functioning “Do not disturb” feature. But we didn’t turn it off. We have all called someone, only to react in utter disbelief that someone had the audacity to turn their phone off. You don’t even consider turning your phone off between 2:25am and 3:18am. Nobody would dare turn their phone off (except my parents, but that’s a different post entirely). To have your phone off is akin to an admission that you’re considering jumping. You’ve surely lost your job. You no longer want to deal with the world. It is offensive. It’s unprofessional. It’s the equivalent of turning your back on anything and everything important. And if after an hour it’s still off? It’s most certainly because the person you called went camping, had no signal, and are now a malodorous assemblage of randomly strewn appendages, having obviously been besieged by rabid black bears.
Or maybe they’re just playing a game with their kids.
Is this innovation any different than a power button? Nope. But it does represent something much bigger than any phone app. It may represent a cultural shift, where – if enough people start admitting that they don’t want to be disturbed – it will become okay not to be disturbed.
Cross your fingers. And if you happen to have an urgent requirement that I know about your beaver dam spelunking exploits; feel free to let me know about it. But expect to leave a message.
If it becomes culturally “okay” to have your phone off or on “Do not disturb”, would you take advantage of it?