Are You Small Or Big Screen? Unleashing the Large Version of Yourself
By Richard Laermer, CEO, RLM PR
What would happen if you made a calculated decision that didn’t involve facing a machine with a keyboard ? It’s a classic question we joke about a lot. Imagine you stood up from wherever you are sitting and took a trip over to another human about an idea that’s been shuffling around your brain. Most of us wonder if that’s even possible. Would we be breaking a code we’ve made with every passing acquaintance?
I rarely witness marketing professionals use their given abilities to talk, shift their eyes, gesticulate, or even lean forward…unless they are doing it all alone where they can’t imagine anyone is watching. In that case, our brains are always in sleep mode.
When did you last watch someone laugh heartily—someone who you weren’t necessarily drinking with? I am fairly certain it was when you were forced to attend a meeting with real people in a real room.
There was a time, maybe 15 years ago, when being on the phone with another person was a second hand way to communicate if you really had something to say. Remember the Seinfeld where Jerry uses his cell to offer condolences and got shit for it! Today, if you get on the phone with someone it seems like a miracle you both got this far: “Wow. I can’t believe we’re finally talking to one another.”
You’re not. You’re looking down at a device and doing Gtalk while statusing and finishing a comment on a can’t-miss blog as you scan Buzzfeed for outlandish pics—while your handheld guest is still jabbering. You stopped paying attention because, as Fran Lebowitz said knowingly, “The opposite of talking is waiting.”
Waiting is a stupid hobby because a solitary act does not have anything to do with communicating. It’s pretending your mind is a video game. Whenever you snap a photo to “be in on” what’s happening it’s another form of the waiting game. You wait to snap, you wait to see quality, you wait to send, you wait to get a response, you wait for resends.
Life consists of playing with astounding apps and Googling words like “Eastwooding” while peeking at TV episodes we attained illegally (you, I mean, not me). There’s an IM here, a word with friends there, a particularly earth shattering tweet idea being Evernoted. What’s the pattern? You do it all in your own head. Even while surrounded by people who notice you are busy avoiding them. Didn’t ever tell us that one is the loneliest number?
A real life isn’t one where you use your inside voice in your own head. Non-linear learning is really the only way you grow. That’s why there are museums and opera. If all you do is what you’ve been doing for years, you get boring. And being boring is the only sin.
My Mom always yelled at me to read—anything. She said books (or cereal cartons, advertising inserts, comic books, lampposts) were all I needed to get a grasp on life. To a degree it’s still good advice. You can still take yourself into a world of your own imagination—and discover if you can sit in one place for 10 minutes. But if a book is on a tablet used to lurk at email the page you’re on is merely what you do until something better comes along..
[Time-wasting: 1; Book-reading: 0]
Kind of like when any commercial is more fun than a sitcom. We gaze at the screen unmoving; those half-hour intervals race by; we know the medium is being used incorrectly. (All the while we’re wasting our brains on a medium that churns thoughts into Jell-O.)
I think we can all to pop out the window into something bigger and find a room where people bump into us. Shout it out loud: “I wanna be a human!” Let’s take one day–say Wednesday, since it’s the same one we let our diets go to heck–and put it in our Google Calendars that there are going to be a few hours of face-to-face with someone besides a sloppy pal. A colleague, vendor, former boss, slow-to-react aunt or someone you don’t think is cute! Tell them something vaguely compelling that’s been firmly on your mind without staring at anything in our hands besides a skin flap.
It’s a lot to ask—it merits being Zen, which is hard. After all, every text someone sends us is mind-blowing. Besides what would I do with my fingers if I wasn’t, you know… Could I hold hands with someone? Too risky. There is, too, leaving them on the table but then I see I need a manicure. In the end we could do what kids do when they hear a piano: type on an imaginary keyboard in front of me. Like air guitar, only air typing.
Like Nora Desmond said: “The screen is still big—it’s the people that got small.” It will seem unsettling to do a face dance when you can get the same satisfaction via one-way email. Yet in your most caffeinated moments you know the frame you live in is shrinking. To be a person is to be a human communicator, a non-ape-like creature with opposable thumbs who punctuates sentences with words rather than exclamation points! Be the guy who cuts off a super-fast talker with “I like what you’re wearing,” without capitulating to do it on FaceBook.
Even if it is breaking the code we call just the way it’s done.
Published: September 3, 2012 By: