Abraham Maslow once said that when one becomes proficient with a hammer everything begins to look like a nail—or words to that effect. |
I recently wrote about a startling and irrepressible revolution that affects us socially, commercially, and culturally. To summarize, most changes during my lifetime have been evolutionary; that is, beneficial change has taken place gradually as a result of market-pull—a result of something the public made known they wanted. However, the advent of the personal computer and the mobile telephone ushered in revolutionary change, the cause of which has been mainly technology-push—a result of researchers taking the lead in telling us what-we-want because we didn’t have the ability to ask—couldn’t conceive it. Marketers are always looking to build a universal “hammer”. Well, they’ve succeeded. Let’s look at the evolution of a revolution, shall we? (BTW, pretty cool oxymoron, eh?)
In the late 1980s the personal computer appeared. The first I remember was a 286 for a cost of about $5,000. Its effect was to eliminate (or for sure minimize) secretaries and personal assistants. In the work place no longer did one pen a longhand memorandum, hand it to a secretary for a rough draft, proof and edit the draft, and (finally) have the secretary type the final version to be distributed via the interoffice (or outgoing) mail system. What a time and labor saver! A virtual tack “hammer” appeared within our subconscious; that is, we could publish and distribute memoranda about anything no matter how frivolous. The “old way” was laborious, and the “new way” freed us of theretofore discipline.
Now for the market-pull aspect. We wanted bigger, stronger, faster machines. More bandwidth! (“I’ve got to have more power, Scotty!”) The marketers responded, and further, provided additional tech-push (hoo-hah!) applications: spreadsheets, tables, presentation media and much more. Users were delighted—thrilled even. The “hammer” grew to ball peen size. More work could be done at a faster pace. What a productivity godsend!
The new tool was touted as a labor-saving device. And it was! However, the flip side meant not only could one do more work in a given time, but expectations and demands of bosses, co-workers, and customers expanded as well. Uh-oh. Woe to those who were not computer literate. Hey, it’s simply another example of the natural selection process; that is, adapt or die.
Almost concurrently came the cellular, mobile, wireless (pick one) telephone. What convenience! I could call anyone, anytime and bug the crap out of them. And, people can’t ignore the incessant, insistent, little spellbinder. (“Feed me, Seymour!”) Ever notice at a meeting, lunch, etc. that a face-to-face partner is ignored in favor of the cell phone? It’s got to be the rudest invention of all time, and excepting the French, we Americans are already probably the rudest people on the planet. That said, our brand of rudeness is mostly amoral—we’re either oblivious or weren’t taught any better. Home training has taken a hike. The point is that the cell phone has considerably upped the ante.
And still the marketers give us more—without our asking. The line between telephone and computer has blurred until we cannot tell one from the other. Again, we’re delighted and go around pounding (suspected) nails unrestrained. Why? Because we can! Man, it’s whack-a-mole gone wild. Let’s see, we can: send important business files and legal documents at the speed of light OR we can forward some pornographic pictures and/or corny jokes we found on the internet to everyone in our address book. We can take some charming photos of our loved ones OR send a picture of our junk to a girl we admire. We can take a video in a business or cultural context OR that of a couple having sex.
The first nail I noticed was 15 years ago when people in adjacent desks sent emails to each other (rather than converse) over the most trivial of matters—the first spark of what we now see as telephone texting. Delightful messages such as: Are you going for a drink after work? Norman is a total geek. I think I’ll take a dump now. How come it hurts when I pee? Years later the written language morphed into something to which teenagers refer as leetspeak: IMHO (in my humble opinion) he’s a luser b/c he’s a h8er… r u b3ing kewl… U R a perv! FOAD! (f**k-off and die) and worse. Caps indicate shouting. Other standards like omg, btw, bfd, and lol you probably already know. I recently read that texters are a more formidable driving hazard than drunks. Another thing: We delight in sharing the most personal of information—to anyone and everyone! The “hammer” continues to expand, but so do beneficial attributes; e.g., pay bills on-line…book travel…order music…play games…find people to date… Tell you what: relative to the last item (on-line dating) if I’m a predator that application is good news to me. First ones I’d hit would be the so-called Christian sites. Sooo…
Keep an eye on that hammer, folks. You could be the next nail. That is: w4tch out b al3rt 3v3ry 1 of u
By Gene Myers, a tot4l phr33k
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Maslow, technology-push, computer, cell phone, leetspeak,