Smartphone Myopia

187401322Last summer, I opined about the “Time Value of Time” for the Wharton Blog Network. The article struck a chord with many job weary professionals. Less than one year later, I’ve noticed another disturbing trend from my perch on top of Aspen Mountain: smartphone myopia.

It’s not a new trend, but it’s clearly getting worse. Smartphone 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 uncrowded by design (or maybe it’s the $124 daily lift ticket price). But this season we’ve had great ski conditions in Aspen so hopping into a packed gondola is not that unusual.

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 has been replaced by each individual reflexively staring at his small screen. Gotta check in. Gotta tweet. Gotta get that memo out while riding the chairlift.

I recently rode with a family. Dad was checking the market, mom was booking her massage, the kids were gaming, texting or Instagramming while jamming with their ear buds turned up to 11. They couldn’t hear a thing, but not a word was spoken.

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 carrying the entire knowledge of the free world in his or her pocket. That’s a lot of pressure and a lot of stress. Aspen Skiing Company claims that their No. 1 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, even at 11,212 ft.

A bunch of type-A friends were out in Aspen for a boys’ trip recently. At lunch one day, we played a game. Everybody put their “smarties” in the center of the table. The first to reach for his 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 my “Save the Ultimate Asset for Yourself” post,” but it’s worth repeating: Unplug a little. Look up from your phone. You might enjoy the view.

Editor’s note: This is an adaption of an article posted originally on March 27, 2014, on Andrew’s AspenSpin site.

 

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