Many argue that we are a slave to technology and the pop up menus of the social media platforms around us. On average, we check our phones 150 times a day. We are afraid of missing something……when we think we already know it all…. and then crave more info.
In a compelling analysis, Tristan Harris recalled that:
Cornell professor Brian Wansink demonstrated this in his study showing you can trick people into keep eating soup by giving them a bottomless bowl that automatically refills as they eat. With bottomless bowls, people eat 73% more calories than those with normal bowls and underestimate how many calories they ate by 140 calories.
This week, wearing my hat as business mentor and coach, I was interviewing people in Jerusalem. In one hour sessions, the aim was to understand their concept, give them some initial advice and then consider how they may approach official agencies to receive additional coaching.
The first customer of the day strutted in. With the briefest of intros, he wanted to know if we could prepare a business plan for him.
A fair request, but I needed more info in order to answer. Very quickly, he interrupted my approach. The questions were declared irrelevant. He demanded a yes / no answer. I tried to explain, but was interrupted. I tried again, but I could that his patience levels were diminishing far quicker than the daily life of my mobile battery.
I was then asked if I could write the plan. I replied that in theory that was possible, but I felt there was not enough chemistry between the two sides. To my surprise, this comment was taken as an insult. On reflection, I suppose that he had assumed that if we were sitting in the same room, we have clicked and thus the next stage will happen automatically.
My point is that I felt that he had been tricked. He had treated me like Google. He had expected to walk in, ask, and be answered on the spot. Who needs an hour? Waste of time. Turn out a biz plan today so that the bank will me the loan tomorrow, no?
Social media is here to stay. However, it has changed thought processes. Those like Harris may argue that it has diminished our ability to think and to help ourselves.
The role of a business mentor is to pose questions that people are uncomfortable with. The success of Facebook et al will not take that power away from me. The question remains if we can retain our ability to realise that the importance of human intelligence.