It's not going back in the box
Whatever you think, think the opposite
“For every trend, there is a countertrend. It is human nature in the Information Age: every move or desire in one direction seems to inspire a countermovement by another group in the opposite direction”.
Mark Penn, Author ‘Countertrends Squared’
When I first worked in IT for RBS we had ‘mainframe email’, which looked like a Command-line Interface — black screen, green Courier font. It was pretty clunky but still quite exciting to get two or three emails each day. Then, after the Y2K bug didn’t go bang, email as we now know it was introduced, first through Outlook then Lotus Notes. In the mid-2000s friends and colleagues were excited to get dedicated work Blackberries1 and then in the 2010s it all merged into our iPhones — one device was work life, home life and everything in between.
I’ve lived through this incredible time and am pleased to have done so — my kids are growing up in this ‘alway on’ world and don’t really believe me when I tell them I had one (plugged in) landline and only three TV channels (and one TV) when I was growing up. Much to their amusement I tell them stories about missing the school bus and using a proper red phone box and putting 5p in the slot to phone home and ask to be picked up.
And now of course we have the Metaverse and it’s here to stay whether we like it or not (there’s a VR headset on the shelf behind me). Do I worry? Yes. Our brains aren’t built for the signal and noise that we are subjecting them to. Our lives are enormously improved by these ‘always on’ tools but we have to have some discipline about the use of them. Zuckerberg won’t take on this task so we have to engineer downtime ourselves.
We have to Unplug
With every new push to get us more connected, we should look for the opposite. To disconnect. To get back into nature. To discover and be closer to who we are.
Could this trend be called the “Antiverse”?
It’s difficult. While I deleted my LinkedIn profile2 I love Twitter. I’ve just been for a run with Bluetooth headphones and a Garmin watch listening to the NIA podcast. Wonderful! Imagine telling that to the 10 year old putting 5p in the slot.
So what to do? I’m not always sure, but for me investing in Unplugged was a stepping stone into this space. You book in and deliberately Unplug. The cabins are off-grid and there’s a box with a padlock to put your phone in so you can have a proper digital detox.
No one’s going to do it for you, so book in here. Do it regularly — engineer this, once a quarter perhaps?
When I first met Hector and Ben what they were doing did sound a little crazy — shouldn’t there just be an app for this? But that’s where the good stuff happens.
Stay tuned — there’ll be more on crazy ideas next Thursday.
Important: None of these posts are investment advice. If you are thinking about investing you should seek the advice of a suitably qualified independent advisor.
From 2003-06 I was at Durham University studying Computer Science so I missed the Blackberry (Crackberry) craze.