Common Outlook Consulting Inc. New Perspectives
July 2015 - Issue # 15-07

Founder's Message

It's a common sight nowadays... people on public transit, in cafés, in cars at red lights, in parks, or at daycares/schools during drop-off and pick-up times - head down - tapping on, or scrolling through a Smartphone. Or the sight of people having lunch or dinner, attention captured by the devices sitting beside or between them.

It's the word "between" that describes Digital Absence, the now-commonplace, Pavlovian-like behaviour that has so many of us - through devices like Smartphones -  ignoring the people who are present in favour of the people who aren't.

Being ignored, especially when it happens over and over again, is provoking. It sets up an inner conflict for the person on the discounted end. The salt in the wound is that it's difficult, even for skilled communicators, to address a provocation that's becoming societally normalized. In other words, it's difficult to ask someone to turn off their Smartphone ("Gasp!") including the vibration function and text messaging sound when they are with us.

The odd thing about Digital Absence is that while we're quick to judge other people's usage, we tend to view our own behaviour benignly and as a result, excuse it. We'll even shake our heads at the person who suddenly stops in the middle of the sidewalk to tap on a Smartphone, then moments later... do it ourselves.

As such, we thought you might like to have a look at the Are You Present or Digitally Absent? checklist featured in this month's article. It will help you determine whether your electronics are running you or whether you're running them. It'll also provide visibility into the areas in which they may be causing conflict.

And who knows, among other things, you might read this just in time to rescue your summer vacation.




"We limit how much technology our kids use at home."
~ Steve Jobs                        




Let the people who are present be more important than the people who aren't. 


Coming Up  


Next month we'll regale you with a book review on something you're sure to like. And no, we're not telling you what it is. Enjoy July and see you in August!



Digital devices like Smartphones can be a boon if you have a teen/daycare/babysitter you need to stay in touch with, or colleagues who you need to touch base briefly with about something. But apart from specific times and occasions, staying tethered to technology - to social media, dating, and gaming sites - is desensitizing us to our surroundings. The bondage benumbs face-to-face connections, and sets up patterns in the brain that lead to distractive thinking processes.


While not as serious an issue as Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), a chronic brain deterioration currently being classed as an addiction, with characteristics similar to some forms of substance abuse(1), the kind of habitual distractive behaviour we're discussing is deeply concerning to many. One such person is Sherry Turkle, a clinical psychologist and founder of M.I.T.'s Initiative on Technology and Self, whose book: Alone Together, explores the damaging way technology is changing human to human communication.


If, like us, you have similar concerns, and would like to determine your usage and pinpoint the areas, if any, where it's causing difficulties, please take a minute to answer the questions below.


Read more 


Peter Hiddema


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