Geoff Hudson-Searle

4 years ago · 5 min. reading time · ~10 ·

Geoff blog
Are we too Connected to Connect

Are we too Connected to Connect

Yow Can't please everyone
But it is possible to- make
Them all mad at the
same time



I recently had a meeting in the City of London with a group of executives, the interesting fact was when I left the boardroom, there was a very interesting picture on the wall, the words ‘Do more things that make you forget to check your phone’, which prompted me to write this blog.

The facts, do we actually have time for our most precious relationships, do we give the time to build lasting relationships around trust and values or do we constantly feel we can always do better with the latest api or technology app?

Let’s face it: Technology is everywhere, but the more we depend on it, and the more we use it when we don’t really need it, the harder it becomes to create meaningful relationships—and sometimes, it actually makes things more difficult.

Is it really best to brainstorm an upcoming project with your co-worker over email, or would it make more sense to walk over to that person’s desk and have a face to face discussion? Can you actually go a whole dinner without checking your smartphone? Is it necessary to charge your phone right by your head at night?

In February, 2017 I wrote a very interesting blog ‘Has Technology Killed Love and Romance?’, The attributes that have now come to define us and the overexposure that the 21st century human is subjected to leaves no dearth of psychological problems. More and more people each year are diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety problems. This becomes a detriment when it comes to business and personal survival with relationships. With dissatisfying home, office or academic environments the relationship in many cases become the dumping ground for emotional baggage.

I challenge you to try going without technology when possible you will be surprised how great it feels (and how little really happens when you’re out of touch). While some business people avoid e-mail and mobiles during their time off, others find it tough to remain out of contact.

According to the study conducted by a group of international researchers, anyone who devotes more than four hours daily on screen-based entertainment such as TV, video games or surfing the web, ups their risk of heart attack and stroke by 113 percent and the risk of death by any cause by nearly 50 percent compared to those who spend less than two hours daily in screen play -- and this is regardless of whether or not they also work out.

A very interesting TEDx video by Leslie Perlow – Thriving in an overconnected world, Leslie Pernow argues that the always "on" mentality can have a long-term detrimental effect on many organizations. In her sociological experiments at BCG and other organizations, Pernow found that if the team –- rather than just individuals -- collectively rallies around a goal or personal value, it unleashes a process that creates better work and better lives.

With great power comes great responsibility, however, and scientists are starting to learn that spending so much time staring at our phones is actually doing some damage to our physical, social and intellectual lives.

Here a few reasons why you should balance you time on your device:

It damages your eyes - Experts advise that prolonged screen usage can be seriously detrimental to eye health

It Makes people perceive you negatively- Studies from Takashi Nakamura – Professor in computers in human behaviour reveal that frequent peeks at your device might damage your friendships as much as your eyes.

They carry bacteria - A study conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine determined that one out of every six cell phones in England is contaminated with fecal matter, and 16 percent of them carry the E. Coli bacteria.

It’s bad for your neck - "Text Neck" has been springing up more and more in the last few years. The human head is a heavy object, and our neck and spine are designed to keep it up at a certain angle.

It makes driving dangerous – Recently released results from a new Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) naturalistic driving study continue to show that distracted driving is a tangible threat. The study showed that a staggering 213,000 accidents involved cell phone usage.

It makes walking dangerous - Phones can distract you on the street just as much as behind the wheel. In fact, an increase in pedestrian deaths last year was partially due to distractions caused by smartphones, some countries including the Netherlands - the Dutch town of Bodegraven has come up with a clever new way of keeping phone-obsessed pedestrians safe as they cross the road, a strip LED traffic signals installed in the pavement that glow red or green, allowing pedestrians to see if it is safe to cross, even if their eyes are glued to their phone screens.

It can damage your hands – We have all heard about “cell phone elbow” and “Blackberry thumb.” We’ve heard that looking down at a smartphone puts pressure on the spine and may damage your eyes. We are now experiencing “text claw,” a soreness and cramping in the wrists, forearms and fingers resulting from overusing our phones. But now we’re learning that such overuse might lead to temporary pain or even a deformity of your pinky finger.

It's bad for sleep - Many people have a hard time putting down their cell phones before bed—when your Twitter interactions are going crazy, that temptation to take just one more look is hard to resist. Unfortunately, a number of studies have revealed that using LCD screens—especially close to your face—can upset your natural sleep cycle.

It makes you stressed - A study at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden attempted to measure the effects of cell phone usage on people in their 20s over the course of a year, the study connected mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults.

It Can Make You Hallucinate - even when you're not looking at your phone, it can still mess with your mind. A professor at Indiana University-Purdue University conducted a study on "phantom pocket vibration syndrome"—i.e. people thinking that their cell phone was vibrating to alert them even when it wasn't. In her survey, 89 percent of undergraduates reported thinking that their mobile was vibrating even when it wasn't. The fact that our brains are being rewired to constantly expect this stimuli can also lead to stress, with another study observing significantly elevated anxiety levels in subjects separated from their phones for an hour.

It Is Altering Your Brain - this last one isn't a definite negative—scientists still don't understand exactly what is happening—but it's troubling nonetheless. A study from the National Institutes of Health hooked up 47 people to PET scanners and observed their brain activity while a cellular phone was kept close to their head. The scientists observed a visible increase of about 7 percent, but as of yet don't know its cause or what kind of long-term effects it will have. What we do know, however, is that the radiation is up to something in there, and are you really willing to take that risk?


Final thought, If you use your phone less, you’ll end up with more free time. Much of this will be in small chunks, such as when you are in the elevator, waiting in line of on the train. These can be great opportunities to take a deep breath and just do nothing (which can be a surprisingly relaxing and restorative experience).

You’re also likely to find yourself with longer periods of time to fill. In order to keep yourself from reverting to your phone to entertain you, it’s essential that you decide on several activities you would like to use this time for and then set up your environment to make it more likely that you will stick to these intentions. For example, if you say you want to read more, put a book on your coffee table so when you flop down on the couch at the end of a long day, your book will be within eyesight and reach. If you want to practice playing music, take your instrument out of its case and prop it up in the hall, where it will be easy to grab when you have a few spare moments. If you want to spend more time in mindfulness take the time to schedule time for meditation and practice it daily. If you want to spend more time with your family or a particular friend, make plans to do so and put your phone in your pocket or bag for the duration of your time together. Smartphones are habit-forming, so think about the habits you want to form.”

As Regina Brett – American author once said ‘Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. Remember the old days when you had eye contact during a conversation? When everyone wasn't looking down at a device in their hands? We've become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture, the people right in front of us.’


Geoff Hudson-Searle

3 years ago #17

Savvy Raj Meaningful Conversations =

Geoff Hudson-Searle

3 years ago #16

Thank you Savvy Raj for your insights and comments, my belief is the same as you describe, this is such a huge subject, one that needs a heightened awareness to others. Your last comment is incredibly relevant, are we really being busy if the trade off is not meaningful, why have a conversation when we should be having deep and meaningful interactions. People are starting to realise that if there is no meaning, there is no point. The internet has provided a great platform for interactions, but it neds to be trusted by others to be effective in meaningful conversations. There are no shortcuts where true relationships are involved. You can have multiple whats app messages, but you will always spend more time with the deep friendships that have meaning.

Jerry Fletcher

3 years ago #15

Ken, see my comment below.

Jerry Fletcher

3 years ago #14

Geoff, My "rump survey" was caused by being texted by two young people I was working with. When I waded into their assumptions I was amazed to find that they believed if one had a mobile phone it was" always on and always attended to" and that" text would be answered in seconds." I began asking clients if they had similar experiences which led me back to talking with anyone in a coaching or consulting role in the USA to determine if they queried clients on how they wanted to be contacted. The data is insufficient to draw valid conclusions but the trends appear to be real differences based on age, economic status and leadership role. It is always best to ask the client and operate on her/his preference but I'll bet that a CEO of 50 plus prefers a phone call if you can't be there in person. A twenty something trainer in a gym assumes a text is the first (and last) resort. And so it goes.

Geoff Hudson-Searle

3 years ago #13

So true John Rylance there is a bigger picture - life is always about choices and with choices as the proof shows - long term effects. Thank you for your comments, insights and participation.

Geoff Hudson-Searle

3 years ago #12

Thank you Ken Boddie for your words, its so true, these days you need to dodge the walking smartphones on a street, mall or even stairwell. The connected world has become very excesive. More serious matters relate to our health, I understand the need to be connected, I also understand balance. A very intersting company that I have started to work with is called Stepjockey. StepJockey is a leading workplace wellness company that has been transforming corporate wellness through a range of powerful employee wellbeing programs. As companies face unprecedented levels of employee sedentary behaviour, StepJockey is stepping up to fight the problem and start a revolution in corporate wellness. Adding short bursts of activity can be a game changer for fitnes, health and mental health in the workplace "Researchers from Canada’s McMaster University found that 20-second bursts of high-intensity stair climbing can make a difference to cardiorespiratory fitness."

Geoff Hudson-Searle

3 years ago #11

Thank you Franci\ud83d\udc1dEugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador for your kindnes and words, I am really pleased you enjoyed the buzz.

Geoff Hudson-Searle

3 years ago #10

Jerry Fletcher may thanks for your insights, your rump survey sounds interesting, is that survey based on US specific or global participants? It would be great to heare about your findings and conclusions? I am not sure if you saw the video on the buzz, Leslie Perlow, a Harvard Professor on the subject. One group of business people at The Boston Group, a consulting firm, discovered just that when they participated in an experiment run by Leslie Perlow, Leslie Perlow is the Konsuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School and author of the book, “Sleeping With Your Smartphone. As described in her book, Sleeping with Your Smartphone, the group found that taking regular "predictable time off" (PTO) from their smartphones resulted in increased efficiency and collaboration, heightened job satisfaction, and better work-life balance. Four years after her initial experiment, Leslie Perlow reports, 86% of the consulting staff in the firm's Northeast offices including Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. were on teams engaged in similar PTO experiments. Interesting insights.....

Geoff Hudson-Searle

3 years ago #9

Thank you my dear friend Debasish Majumder for your kindness and wonderful words, I am so happy you enjoyed reading my thoughts on the subject.

Geoff Hudson-Searle

3 years ago #8

Thank you Ali for your important insights and generous observations, this issue is propelling and it out of control. A very good friend of mine, Moran Lerner is a behavioural and experimental psychologist with expertise in the fields of Cognitive Behavioural Innovation, computational intelligence and human-machine interaction, Moran has founded/co-founded over 20 market-leading global companies with 14 successful exits in Computational Intelligence, Biomimetics, Interactive Gaming and Behavioural and Bio Engineering over the past 20 years. We often explore new and creative ways of listening, engaging, working together, learning, building community and being in conversation with the other. We are more connected than ever through technology and at the same time the disconnect with ourselves, others and our environment is growing. We need ‘Meaningful Conversations’ to help us reconnect, going beyond our egos and our fears to build strong relationships, communities, networks and organisations, so that through collaboration.

John Rylance

3 years ago #7

True they are missing out on all that is happening around them as they become engrossed in the small back lit screen. They are missing out on the "bigger picture" trapped in a bubble of social media trivia. While they miss the fragrant roses, they might smell the coffee and return to the real world, however briefly as long as the coffee shop as WIFI access.

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #6

Interesting age breakdown on communication preferences, Jerry Fletcher. I wonder if there are also different preferences across different vocations?

Ken Boddie

4 years ago #5

Enlightening post, Geoff. I often find myself, while in the city or busy malls, bemused by how many people walk and use their smart phones, with predictable consequences. I concur with your good book suggestion for time away from the smart device. I also enjoy long breaks walking or gardening.
Insightful post Geoff Hudson-Searle. So many think they're in touch while using these devices when really they are out of touch. They need to stop and smell the roses.

Jerry Fletcher

4 years ago #3

Geoff, You have tapped into a real problem. I've been running a rump survey on how people address the question of how consultants, coaches, etc determine how their clients want to be advised of any new or changed information. it tends to break by age. Clients over 60 prefer face to face, phone and e-mail in that order. Clients under 40 prefer text, phone, e-mail and in-person in that order. But the most interesting observation is that the independent professionals I've spoken with are not regularly asking their clients how they want to be contacted! Once again customer disservice rears its ugly head! And so it goes.

Debasish Majumder

4 years ago #2

lovely buzz Geoff Hudson-Searle! have you ever thought that your tongue plays the vital role to determine the taste and if you have indignation with one, will your taste bud will send the message to your brain that the taste offer by the concern people is good? however an intriguing buzz indeed. enjoyed read and shared. thank you for the buzz.

Ali Anani

4 years ago #1

Great thoughts Geoff Hudson-Searle. Yes, we lose focus attention and body language with the excessive devotion to technology. worse, if we become addicted to it. Like anything else in life; excessive dependence on technology has the pitfalls you highlighted ably in your buzz. Too many connections create what has been known as the "rigidity gap". When me need resilience the most, we lose it and become rigid.

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