What About The Growing Addiction?

I was sitting in a Starbucks on a Sunday morning, doing a little work and enjoying a coffee. At the table next to me was a father and son; the boy looked around 8-9 years old. The boy was talking to his father, trying to engage the father in conversation. The father was on his cell phone, busily engaged in some app, game or website. He wasn’t talking on the phone to anyone. The father completely ignored his son. The boy was getting more and more frustrated and saddened by his father’s total attention on the phone.

Many people cannot sit through a 2-hour movie without checking their phones every few minutes.

I’ve witnessed this same scenario dozens and dozens of times over the past few years. Anyone reading this probably has seen this over and over as well. I have observed couples at lunch or dinner ignoring each other while having all their attention on their phones or tablets. Very little if any conversation occurs between many couples as a result. In movie theatres, there is a non-stop barrage of bright cell phone screens lighting up throughout the movie as people cannot keep themselves from checking their messages, texting, etc. Many people cannot sit through a 2-hour movie without checking their phones every few minutes.

More and more, people are becoming totally engaged and absorbed in their private electronic worlds.

This is both a tragedy in the making, as well as a destructive trend in life. All too many people become so absorbed and consumed by their cell phones, tablets, and laptops that they forget about life. I catch myself doing this too, and realized I was becoming addicted to these electronic marvels. I find myself thinking about checking something online while with someone, in the middle of a conversation. This is a genuine addiction and one that is having negative effects on life and society.

Look around and observe for yourself the degree to which people are absorbed with their electronic gadgets. Look at how often someone is being ignored or only listened to partially as a result of attention placed on electronic toys.

Life and business are all about people. People conceive, design and build these technological wonders. People buy them. People use them, both as tools and for entertainment. Technology and technological gadgets are simply tools, tools to serve people. But all too often, we are too easily impressed and absorbed with gadgets and technology and not as interested in other people as we should be. The servant tools are becoming the master attention-sucker.

What is the purpose of any machine, be it a car, a computer, a bulldozer, an oil driller, or a television? The purpose of any machine is to serve people in some way. No matter what machine you can think of, its purpose is to serve people in some form or another. No people = no need for machines. Also, no people means no machines are even thought of, much less designed, built, and operated.

In this day and age of technology, it can be easily lost that people are the most important element in life. People ARE life, in addition to animals and plants. And it is people who are far, far superior, more powerful and more capable than any technology.

After all, who creates technology?


Joe Kerner
Joe Kerner
Joe Kerner has been a business owner and management consultant for 30 years. He has worked with hundreds of businesses, business owners and executives, spanning several industries and professions. He is a recognized expert in such areas as leadership, management, organizational development, efficiency, personnel development and training, sales training and business planning. He has helped his client business increase their profitability, growth, efficiency, and productivity. He has consulted and coached businesses in such industries as health care, software development, biotech, construction, financial services, scientific instrument firms, systems analysis, travel, hospitals, and insurance. Joe is also an accomplished speaker and has delivered over 1,100 seminars and workshops covering such areas as leadership and management, operations, personnel development, and efficiency. In 1998, Joe was a co-founder of a very successful health care group in Virginia and North Carolina. He served as Vice President of Operations and managed the entire group. Under his leadership, this group increased revenue by 300-400% within three years. This group was sold for a high profit in 2013. Joe holds a Master of Science degree in Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. He has also completed an extensive and rigorous management training program, the Organization Executive Course. This is an intensive 2,000-hour curriculum covering the fundamental principles, technology and advanced systems of management, leadership, organization, executive training, personnel development and management, management tools, marketing, and sales.

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  1. Hmm. I hate to sound so pessimistic, but we see what we expect to see. I’m trying to see the best in everything, and today I had so may people smile at me and say “Hi” “Good morning” and open doors for me, that I had a really good feeling about the world.

  2. I agree, absolutely, Joe. Our ability to access “inner” resources seems to have declined over the years. I see it as an effect of an educational system that “stuffs facts in” rather than one that “pulls stuff out.” Plus an entertainment industry that provides endless 24/7 entertainment. We are not used to being left to our own devices anymore. Young kids are still quite creative and imaginative, but I’m often shocked by adults. I have a cell phone, but I rarely use it for anything except phone calls.

  3. Joe, I don’t disagree with you about the addiction part, but it’s all about creating harmony within your life and these tools. I am struck sometimes at the speed with which I can solve problems big and little just with a few clicks. But at the time, I find myself almost unconsciously grabbing the phone to check whatever. Pulling back a few notches calls for self-awareness over who is controlling what. Am I controlling it, or is it controlling me?

    Jeff Ikler

    • I’m with you, Jeff. I grab the phone or laptop a lot every day to look up something or do something. Especially for work. As you write, it’s the balance that’s important. I’ve made a conscious effort to keep my phone turned off as much as possible when I’m with friends and family. This has worked for me the past few years, and I haven’t missed anything important.