In June, 2014 I bought a Google Glass. For about 20 minutes, I thought I was the coolest thing in the world. Until I wore them for another half an hour and then the battery died.
Regardless, I suspect that my identity in the Denver startup community is closely tied to my Glass. There are many who know me as the doofy lawyer who wanders around Galvanize with the dim grin and the Google Glass. But anyone who has seen me lately may have noticed that I don’t wear it around much anymore.
That’s in part because over the last month and a half, I’ve been using a Go Phone. For those of you who don’t know, a Go Phone is the lowest-end mobile phone that you can buy today (at least that I know). The Go Phone is not a smart phone. By 2014 standards, it’s a pretty dumb phone. It’s not compatible with Google Glass or much of anything else. The only thing it has going for it is the awesome retro ring tones.
I was prompted to buy one when my prior phone died in an unfortunate Karaoke-related incident. I had heard that the iPhone 6 was coming out soon, and I decided to just get a loaner until the new one came out.
So I went from about the highest of high tech to the lowest of the low. But you know what? After the initial adjustment/detox, it didn’t affect me much. In fact, I suspect that I’m probably more efficient now than when I was using my iPhone and Google Glass every day. Google Glass pings me every time I get an email. I don’t think my Go Phone even knows what an email is. But I don’t need to know every time I get an email the exact second I get it. Efficiency isn’t about having information at your disposal at all times. It’s about processing information effectively. And that’s hard to do when you are perpetually stimulated.
Constant distraction kills concentration – and while the iPhone and Google Glass are powerful tools that are very useful in certain circumstances, they just as frequently are an obstacle to focus and full engagement.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Luddite. I have ordered the new iPhone 6, as there are times when a smartphone (and wearable tech) can be damned handy. But this detox phase has underscored the fact that knowing when not to use a smart phone is more critical (and perhaps more difficult to effectuate) than knowing when you should.