Meetings: Weapons of mass distraction

Cell phones in church: Occasions of Mass distraction

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Quote of the Week

Posted: July 21, 2018 in Quotes
Tags: , ,

“The time you need to do something is when no one else is willing to do it, when people are saying it can’t be done.” – Mary Frances Berry, American history and law professor

“I found out the way everyone seems to find out these days: an electronic slip. Sometimes it’s a text or voice mail message; in my case it was an email, the modern-day lipstick on the collar.” – Rachel, in the novel, The Girl On the Train, by Paula Hawkins

My last post was about a word “intexticated” that not only was a clever take on intoxication but also was understandable in the message it tried to get across to the reader. Not all “created” words, clever though they may seem, clearly communicate their message. Here are excerpts from an article that appeared in Biz Bash, (Alesandra Dubin, Reader’s Forum, 2013 p52) a magazine that writes about the meeting and event industry, where you might chuckle at the speaker’s phrasing but wind up scratching your head as to what he meant.

In the article In Conversation Rohit Talwary the C.E.O. of United Kingdom based Fast Future Research, (where he applies his skills as a futurist to understand and project what’s ahead for the meeting and event industry) was interviewed about upcoming trends. Here are some of his head scratching gems:

“The consumerization of technology is turning us all into technology sophisticates and datasexuals.”  Datasexuals? When did data have the ability to be sexual? Don’t think I want to transgender myself into that!

“We have to stop thinking of our events as one-offs and start to see them as platforms for year-round engagement – the focal point of an ongoing experience.” Hmmm, meetings and events, in most people’s opinion, already take up too much of our time, so now they should be an “ongoing experience?” Yikes, count me out.

“Good business events…also connect industry investors with local innovators and help in attracting inward investment.” Is this like meditation? Or stock trading? He does go on to explain but it takes two long convoluted sentences to clarify this one point.

“Inevitably, those who fail to innovate and create new business models will go to the wall.” He never elaborates on what this “wall” means or what will happen when one goes to it.

“The best [event planners] have an excellent ecosystem of support mechanisms in place to help them stay abreast of developments…” A system, yes, but an “eco”system connotes something entirely different. Usually something green and alive!

As you can see, people who write or talk like this can be very entertaining without even trying. But if you are in a business communication situation, avoiding cleverness is usually the better path to take. To give him credit, he did elaborate on most of his unique statements. However, it is always better when writing a piece with the intent of imparting information to your reader to be concise and to the point, thus not wasting your reader’s time by making them wade through a mountain of confusing words to figure out what you meant.

I always love it when I come across a “new” word that accurately defines something in our culture. Can you guess what “Intexticated” refers to?

It’s the 4th of July “weekend” which this year stretches over two weekends. The current newsletter from the NJ AAA club ran this article entitled Driving While Intexticated”:

“A father is driving with his three children in the back seat. His left hand is firmly on the steering wheel while his right hand is gripping a beer bottle.

Shocking, right? But would you be as shocked if the same man was holding a phone instead?”

The article then goes on to discuss how distracted driving can have devastating consequences. Creating this new word was clever and attention getting and right on point. Using electronic devices while driving can be as fatal as driving while intoxicated.

Being that I am studying law, I follow a number of lawyer blogs. This week I surfed on over to the Associate’s Mind, where the lawyer Keith Lee has a blog, and started catching up on his postings. I was amazed to come across his post from April 9, 2018 that mirrors what I wrote in my post last week on “The ‘i’ Effect”. His is so well written that I have taken the liberty of reposting it here almost in its entirety.

“I’m sitting in another airport. They blur together after a while. Glass and steel and advertisements. Windswept arcologies of a future that never was. Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta. I’m currently somewhere over East Coast on my way to Boston. Sitting outside a gate, a glance around shows everyone next to each other, but face down, stroking a small rectangle of glass. [isn’t this a great description of what we do with our tablets and smartphones?]

It’s easy to notice how isolated people are in airports. The rushed weary business traveler is a cliché. Mind slung across the Internet seeking stimulation, body on the way to somewhere else. Their present location an inconvenience.

But even when not isolated by travel, we’re alone. Gen X, Millennials, the whatevers – it should all be balled up and called the lonely generation. It’s a constant refrain. Technology, the great disruptor and connector, is actually making us long for something more.

Sitting in a coffeehouse alone, yet surrounded by strangers. At the office, nose down in work. In the car listening to podcasts. On the train, thumbing through social media. It provides some thin thread of connection but often ultimately dissatisfying.

. . .what social media companies want, what they crave, is not for you to connect. What they want is your attention so they can profit from it. To create engagement. To further interaction with the system. Ad dollars pushing this product or the next in front of your eyes.

Their desire for our attention is insidious. When people respond with ad blockers and anti-tracking plugins, companies respond with Sponsored content, native content, and product placement. Something mildly enticing, striving to capture our attention for a moment.”

[Keith Lee, Are You Lonely?, (April 9, 2018), https://associatesmind.com/2018/04/09/are-you-lonely/  ]

Though we are “connected” 24/7 with our electronic devices, loneliness seems to be a topic everyone is discussing. Click on my Quote of the Week that came from an article in Vogue (June issue which is produced months prior) where Lena Dunham, actress and comedian, wrote after breaking up with her boyfriend, about experiencing and coping with “alone time”. One can only wonder how much loneliness is at the root of our increase in violence, suicides, and bullying events. So put down your iPhone and hug a human today.

“Too much has been said about the way technology allows us to experience the illusion of connection and retreat further into hermetic patterns, but it bears repeating that texts, emails, Facebook pokes, and Twitter faves do not a social life make. People are, it would seem, lonelier than ever and also less used to being alone.” – Lena Dunham, Vogue June 2018, p34