Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cell Phones kill planning

Cell phones are ruining my social life! Thanks to cell phones, when I go out with friends no one is ever fully present in the moment. Everyone is always on their phone trying to coordinate a meeting with someone else, texting with their flirt, or distracted by Facebook.

Cell phones make us non-committal and plunder our sense of planning.

Have you tried to plan an event lately? It is an absolute pain in the butt. You ask someone if they can come and they look at you like a deer in headlights "ahhhh… maybe." "Well do you have anything else planned?" "no.. But something might come up"

Cellphones give us the perceived ability to change plans quickly, because we can communicate instantly. And if you can think you can change plans quickly, odds are you are going to try. But the problem is, plans can't be changed quickly. It takes time to travel, people are late, they can't find the landmark you are talking about. So the plans fall through.

Let me just tell a story and hopefully the punch line will come across.

So one day I was trying to connect with a friend of mine "Bob" in Santa Cruz. So I call "Bob" and he says he is on the beach by the volleyball courts, past the board walk and that he should be there for a while. So I walk there, arriving about 15 minutes after our phone call and I can't find him. So I text him, "where are you?" "Oh I left. We are now going for ice cream" "Ok, where for ice cream?" Long story short, I chased Bob for a good hour and a half. When I finally caught up with him I was so pissed I could hardly enjoy the moment. What happened to the good old interface point? Meet you at the flag pole at 5pm, if you get there first just wait for me. You may argue that I just have bad friends, but I see this scenario playing out with even the closest of friends.

Since the creation of cell phones. We suck at planning. Why? Because of one short phrase. "Oh, I'll just call you"

Planning is a fundamental social skill. It requires foresight, communication, and commitment.

  1. Here is what we are going to do. At this time. At this location.
  2. And then executing and trying to stick with the plan to the best of our ability until the objective has been met.

But our generation doesn't want to hear anything of it. Why? Because we don't think the juice is worth the squeeze. A well executed plan, makes the juice worth the squeeze. We waste hours of our lives on the phone because we screwed up the planning process. People get lost, or can't even make it at all because we didn't print out a map or didn't allocate enough travel time.

By golly folks, isn't it just easier to plan?