We are in year 25 of the great worldwide ‘let’s all have smartphones and see what happens’ experiment. (If the IBM ‘Simon’ launched in 1992 really was the first)

Carelessly, no experiment design or stopping rules were established; so we are all in the odd position of being simultaneously guinea–pig and researcher.

One trend is becoming very evident to me as the experiment hurtles on and subtly changes our brains and behaviour.  It is this. The adaptation to dealing (amazingly) with the ludicrous amounts of data conveyed via our devices, seems to be at the expense of dealing with a different sort of data: real-life, situational, experiential data.

Recently I’ve been lucky enough to participate in several interesting and creative Leadership Training sessions. I’ve seen this play out in full view.

In numerous different role-play scenarios, the same pattern has emerged.  Words have been taken at rational face value; while signals (data) from body, voice, mood, stance – even if at odds with the language – have been barely registered.

It’s as if the senior, experienced, impressive participants had become used to operating primarily as super-brains. Disembodied. Disconnected.

It’s a phenomenon that could do with a name.

James Joyce’s collection of stories ‘The Dubliners’ was published in 1914. The collection includes a story called ‘A Painful Case’. Joyce described the hero:

“Mr Duffy lived a short distance from his body”


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