Last Summer I opined about the "Time Value of Time" for the Wharton Blog Network. The article struck a chord with many job weary professionals. Click 4: Time: The Ultimate Asset. Less then one year later I've noticed another disturbing trend from my perch high on top of Aspen Mountain. Smart Phone Myopia.
It's not a new trend...but it's clearly getting worse. Smart phone myopia has almost completely replaced face to face interactions on the Aspen Gondola. The gondola is my contact point to the real world.
Skiing has always been a social sport. Riding the lifts with friends and strangers is part of the equation. The gondola that runs top-to-bottom on Aspen Mountain (Ajax) seats six. Aspen is"un-crowded by design"...or maybe its the $124 daily lift ticket price...but sometimes groups are merged. This season we've had great ski conditions in Aspen so hopping into a packed gondola is not that unusual, especially when it's a POW day.
What used to be a pleasant 17 minute ride to the top... complete with friendly banter like "where you from?" or "what a day, huh?" has been replaced by each individual, almost as a reflex action, staring at their small screen. Gotta check in. Gotta tweet. Gotta get that memo out while riding the chair-lift. I recently rode up with a family. Dad was checking the market, Mom was booking her massage, the kids were gaming, texting or instagraming all while jamming with their ear buds turned up to 11. They couldn't hear a thing, but not a word was spoken. It cracks me up to see some of our older visitors texting at the speed of molasses and holding the phone an inch from their face to read their e-mail. Battery life is reduced when it's freezing. Some people don't race for first tracks anymore...they rush to claim a spot at the charging station.
I get it. People are busy. They have a lot going on. Everyone is now carrying the entire knowledge of the free world in their pocket. That's a lot of pressure and a lot of stress. Aspen Skiing Company claims that their number one customer complaint is "poor cell service" on their mountains. I'm not sure if that's true, but they are apparently working diligently to get better coverage at 11,212 ft.
A bunch of type-A friends were out in Aspen for a "boys trip". At lunch one day, we played a game. Everybody put their "smarties" in the center of the table. The first to reach for their device paid for lunch. The loser made it a full 30 seconds before responding to a ping. "It might be important" he said as he flipped his black card on the table.
All I can say is... Oy Vey.
I guess it's a similar message to "The Time Value of Time". Unplug a little. Look up from your phone once in a while. You might enjoy the view.