There is still no expression that defines the moment we are living in relation to technological developments. I have found quite a few words that detail this moment of the relationship and among the most prominent are overwhelmed, exhausted and overwhelmed and my favorite is collapsed. The human being begins to feel that the speed of technology is unattainable, not only from its understanding or adoption but precisely in their relationship. We no longer know how to keep up with it. At the very moment that the human being begins to understand the use of social networks, discovers that apps are there, when the management of apps begins to be familiar arises the need to understand artificial intelligence, no sooner do we begin to discover what is this AI and how it affects us we are already talking and discovering blockchain and so between one and another, just to mention a few, our life is going. Or at least that’s how the human being feels, between anxious and overwhelmed he can’t find a way to deal with these changes and collapses emotionally.
Technological innovation continues to transform industries, companies, institutions, environments, cultures and, of course, people. We have given technology so much power that it can connect and disconnect us, amplify our anger or our solidarity, make us feel excited, sociable, creative, alienated, absent, lonely, global or modern. Yet we spend too much time trying to understand technology and too little time discovering the human being. This has led us to the point of affirming that we have created a techno-centric society, relegating the person to a more utilitarian role than a transcendent one.
We agree that change is advancing faster than the speed of change. This acceleration did not come programmed, it was generating speed as the adoption of the human being was more by imposition than by choice. When in the forums of parents of children between 8 and 12 years old, it is discussed whether their children should have a smartphone “because the rest of the children already have it and if they do not give it to the few who do not yet have it, they may be isolated from the group of friends” is one detail, among thousands, that contrasts that the relationship with technology is getting out of hand.
At the dawn of the digital age, humans came face to face with “non-social” technology that seemed to complement any need for human interaction. Since the introduction of modern smartphones in 2007 and digital tablets in 2010, coupled with social networking, online gaming and apps, we have drastically changed our relationship with people and of course with technology. Technology exponentially became “social” and in an inversely proportional way caused a regression in human to human relationships. This is reflected in a leading presence of technology in people’s daily activities. The social aspect began to happen “naturally” through screens. We began to connect more through technology to the detriment of offline social interaction. There is no longer any doubt that behind this social upheaval the great technological titans (if they can still be called technological) played an absolutely central role in provoking an induction to this new paradigm. No one can accuse them of it, but here we are. Glued to the screens as if there were no tomorrow.
Our children and adults are plugged into the Internet, leaving little time for face-to-face interactions (I mean without screens in between). The truth is that the introduction of technology was not and is not the problem. For generations, children and not so children grew up with new inventions such as radios, televisions, walkmans and the adaptation to new media was gradual and certainly slow, progressive.
Now, with each new wave of technology, its speed of expansion and its speed of scalability, people are beginning to worry about the sacrifices that could challenge the way we interpret our humanity. Although at this point (again) it is not clear to us what kind of civilization we want. Or is it?
What is uniquely different this time, in the irruption of the new, however, is that these novelties are seriously eliminating opportunities for critical social interaction essential to not losing one of the defining features of our civilization.
We have already entered a period in which technology is displacing many opportunities for social interaction. Some might argue, correctly, that new technologies have opened a window of communication to many people who could not previously do so. Advances in technologies that allow us to have unprecedented mobility to work and study anywhere, travel safely and stay socially connected, despite distances, create and communicate in a mobile way, have coincided with a connection to devices that paradoxically divide our attention between interactions through screens and face-to-face. We no longer know how to distinguish whether we spend more time online or offline, and this delicate balance presents itself as a challenge every day.
And we observe, simultaneously, how screens are conquering our attention, our time and our socialization. Or rather, how we allow it to be so.
Spain is no exception.
Spain has almost 40 million active users, and they spend an average of more than five hours a day connected to the Internet. If we set an average of 23.6 hours spent on the Internet on average each week (some weeks more, some weeks less) we are “losing?” one day a week. More than 27 million regularly connect to social networks.
Almost nine out of ten Spaniards use smartphones; 72% use computers; 41% use tablets; 10% use streaming Internet devices on TV; 10% use eReaders or digital reading devices; and 7% use wearables.
More than half of Spaniards use their cell phones as alarm clocks. The first thing they hear and see every day is their smartphone. 36% to check the weather; 26% as an agenda; 25% to read news; 14% to manage tasks; 5% to access books and magazines; 3% to keep health records.
After learning a little more about the data and the reality of our relationship with digital, almost six out of ten users believe that new technologies bring more benefits than risks.
The social being facing the challenge of digital sociopathy.
The social being needs to reconnect with the essence of the human, aided by technology. And once again doubts arise about our essence: what is human?, and is the digital no longer an indivisible part of our being? Not all connected time is wasted time, far from it. The digital economy is growing and more and more people are making a living in one way or another thanks to the Internet, and this is here to stay. Just as in the field of education and training.
The amount of time spent on the web is likely to grow more than imaginable in the coming years, and that is a sign that new tools are available for us to use.
We are what we feel, and relationships define us.
It is clear that digital reality has two well-defined faces. The more personal side watches, incredulously, as the social universe around it cracks. The professional side is one click away, one screen away, billions of people who need to consume news, series, videos and photos of unknown people, play online with people who only know their nicknames, and are predisposed to spend hours and hours online.
Emotions are what drive purchases. If the brands value proposition does not evoke an emotional response from the target audience, it will be extremely difficult for your potential customers to buy from you. That’s right, if the soul of the company (branding) and the voice of the company (marketing) don’t connect emotionally, what you are causing is for potential customers to walk away from you and your brand. Or worse, they will ignore you.
The power of emotional content should come as no surprise. After all, emotions drive us to action. As consumers, we first decide on a purchase based on emotion, and then try to justify it through the more rational aspects of our brain. In the short, medium and long term, emotions are what make people prefer some brands over others, even if there are generic alternatives available.
Neither B2B nor B2C, it is now B2P (Brand to People).
And it’s not that emotion-based marketing is applicable only to B2C marketing and individual consumers. Business-to-business people are also beings of emotion. Companies are people, customers and brands are people, and those who don’t understand people won’t understand business. In fact, many successful B2B companies focus on emotions in their marketing. B2B brands achieve approximately twice the impact with a target audience when they appeal to the buyer’s personal value, including emotional benefits. This is why successful B2B is actually B2P.
The emotional component is growing proportionally to the rise of technology in our lives. Connecting from feelings, aided by technology, is certainly proving effective.
Emotion cannot be automated, for now.
New technologies, no matter how fascinating, will not survive without an understanding of how people behave, what their needs are and how they live. The door to exploring creative, human-centered approaches to problem solving that drive innovation and adoption is open. Shaping new ways of thinking and communicating is within everyone’s reach. Together, and not just from marketing, we can take much more and better advantage of the rich intersection of psychology, science, technology, art and culture.
Perhaps the time has come to rethink the balance between our obsession with digital and face-to-face human interaction. In a 21st century world, children and adults will need to exercise social skills that prepare them for learning, modern work, an unknown future and prepare them to participate in building tomorrow. Digital platforms are part of our daily lives, but they must serve humans rather than jeopardize our basic social instincts.
Emotions are impacting every company, every business, every political organization, every economy. And there is no reliable standard for understanding how people feel and why they feel that way.
The technologies we have access to represent amazing advances. And there is no need to panic about certain symptoms in our society in relation to advances, because history is littered with examples of how technology bypasses the social, economic, cultural, legislative, ethical and political frameworks we need to make good use of it. Our mental and emotional breakdown is directly connected to the speed of change and the depth of change. So we continue to try to understand, absorb and embrace technology, without giving up on its progress. The challenge before us is to understand and embrace people as well. We should not be so concerned or even obsessed about our relationship with technology as it is just going through a bump, which will soon adjust, the challenge is in the human aspect of the relationship.