The debate whether technology is actually disconnecting people from the real world has been ongoing. While constant connection to the digital world and ubiquitous mobility has brought access to information and “closeness” to people like never before, it has also done so at the expense of time spent appreciating the physical things around you. How often do you see people at concerts looking at the stage through their handsets as they record the performance? How often do you see pedestrians walking to their destinations gazing through their phones? How often do you see kids on a holiday road-trip engulfed in the iPad while beautiful foreign landscapes pass them by?
The most powerful Brand-driven call-out to the potential threat of technology to real-world living has come from Nature Valley. They interviewed 3 generations about their fondest memories of spending time playing. The answers are both alarming and sad. The answers are what you will probably expect. Have a look.
Now, who’s to say that this “new way of playing” isn’t as stimulating at real-world playing. While I am sure there are countless papers written on the topic, how this type of living is changing humankind for the better or worse will only be seen in a decade or so when the “social generation” become leaders in their own right and we see the decisions that they make. One thing that is for sure, they seem be living an “aspirational existence” where they are yearning for some other activity or action that is not possible in their current physical place. This somehow weakens the connection to the present and the appreciation of what exists around you.
For this reason, I really appreciate Brands that use technology to create a stronger connection to the physical surroundings and to break people from their virtual-driven routines. A local Swiss tourism board leveraged virtual connectivity to jolt commuters out of their routine to explore and enjoy the wonder of nature that lay just over an hour from the Zurich train station. The stunt idea was not new. I’ve seen Heineken do something similar with Departure Roulette. However, the approach and tone of the work was much more authentic and much more emotional. There was purpose in the execution which gave it power. Have a look.