Only the other day, my son’s school sent a note out telling us about yet another app which is a menace – for which we need to keep an eye open. The school has banned its use. Oh good – one bit of software I won’t have to get to know. I returned to my emails. The telephone rang, a text message flashed, and there were two emails with the exclamation mark in red next to them, which always makes me slightly nervous.
We are drowning in messages and email marketing. What I need is an occasional day of deliberate calm. Don’t get me wrong – it is indeed good to be in touch with the world at large, and so very easily, but on some days, I feel the need to withdraw, to ruminate, to live my own life. But of course you have to engage – there might be a text from one of the children, or the school, or the plumber you have been waiting to call you back. . .or one of your clients might have got himself into a panic!
When psychologist Sherry Turkle first wrote about the possibility of what all this communication capability will mean for the new century, just before it began, I recall that she appeared on the cover page of Wired. Now, she thinks that our behaviour is changing because of these very devices in our pockets, and asks us to think about what is important to us. Here she is talking in 2012. Her TED talks attract us in millions, as ever.
Pensive after listening to this absorbing talk, I looked at my emails, and rejoiced.
What is the answer, Ms Turkle?
Here is something which lets you decide what you will allow to impinge on you today, (pre-select what you CANNOT afford to miss) and this little device will simply nudge you to engage with that – everything else, all the electronic noise, can be ignored.
It is called Nudge. It is about to go on Kickstarter. But that is not why I am writing about this. You see, I got the email because I met this young man at a City University competition. I was invited because that is home ground – I did my MBA from Cass, and continue to speak at their ‘Spotlight’ series. So when he was talking to me, he spoke candidly about his PhD, his team, his product, what the market should ideally be, and what this little device can do. . . and what struck me was his sincerity.
On their website, he is shown as Rob, who is German, and therefore hasn’t got any ‘fun facts’ to share. What I saw was a young man, whose smile lights up his eyes, as he talks about the possibilities of this new product. It wasn’t just a wristband – it was going to be a new way of life.
He deserves to get somewhere. He was of course a prize winner.
But more importantly for busy parents – Nudge could be a real boon. It is a device which allows you to exercise your discretion, and choose, if you will, to ‘Go placidly amid the noise and haste’ – even if it is just for one day.
I don’t know how they will price this wristband.
I hope everyone can afford it.
To be given a chance to ‘remember what peace there may be in silence’ on any single day in today’s noisy life, is indeed priceless.