As I was flipping through my Facebook feeds on Sunday, I noticed the following post from Fast Company.


I see their point, and I do understand that the behavior of some people can be labeled with no other word than distraction. However, I think it is how we use the technology that is often missing from the conversation. Yes, it is unacceptable (and rude) to engage with your phone when you are in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with someone. But is it so bad to be checking your Feedly while sitting at a stop light?

Speaking from my own personal experience, my digital devices are used so much for learning rather than as a distraction from the current moment, whatever that may be. This understanding of my digital device usage surfaced for me on a recent trip out of the country. As my smartphone was on the “international plan” with a small number of minutes, texts and data, I was particularly careful not to use it but in the most necessary of instances. But I found that there were many, many times that I wanted to use it….for learning. Whether it was the tour guide sharing something I wanted to learn more about, or me needing to figure out the quickest route to get from one point to another, I missed using my digital device for learning!

So I ask the question: What are most of the people in our society of IDIOTs doing with their smartphones? Are they using them as distractors from the moment at hand, or are they using them to harness a learning opportunity? While I have my moments of distraction (who doesn’t?), I’m pretty confident I can manage how I use my devices….and that, I am realizing, is mostly for the possibilities of learning.

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Learning

2 comments on “IDIOTS?

  1. I would agree that the IDIOT syndrome applies to some much of the time and all once in a while. However, I would submit that rather than mindless, robotic distraction addicts, we have really become adapted to a new environment. We naturally crave information and communication. That craving can be almost instantly satiated in this new environment. No longer do we need to rely on the “know-it-all” and accept an answer. I would also submit that via social networks that we have become more sophisticated at finding answers and more thoughtful about how we respond with answers. Do we still reply with impulsive, knee-jerk responses to Facebook posts? Certainly. However, those impulsive comments rarely go unanswered and are usually treated to some serious “peer review” that many times references research supporting the “reviewer’s” position. And, best of all, these “reviewers” are rarely experts in the field. They are our friends, family and colleagues. If there is a syndrome, I will call it the “berg” syndrome in honor of two major players who provided tools that have driven human adaptation to the new information/communication environment of their times: Gutenberg and Zuckerberg. So, although we are so often distracted by the multiple, unending notification tones from our many devices, I don’t believe we have become mindless IDIOTS. Rather, we have become thoughtful consumers of two highly prized commodities, information and communication.

  2. Well said, Charlie. I particularly like your idea of the “berg” syndrome. It’s here to stay, and it’s important for people to develop the skills to manage the potential distraction and the instantaneous availability of communication and information. Thanks for commenting!

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