NEXT LEVEL SHIFT: BIG BROTHER IS NOW FOLLOWING YOU
“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.” –George Orwell, “1984”
My daughter, whose 10th Grade English class is reading George Orwell’s 1984, recently asked me to help her with a homework question. Her teacher had asked the class to, “Explain why you think Orwell’s vision of the future has not come to pass?” I couldn’t help myself from asking, “What kind of stupid-ass question is that?” My daughter explained that, apparently, her English teacher regards Big Brother as pure science fiction.
Maybe it’s not a stupid question..? Perhaps the parallels between modern-day society and the then-futuristic culture depicted in the classic 1949 novel, could easily elude any of us. After all, if we’re looking for the foreboding Big Brother of 1984, we wouldn’t recognize him anyway. Big Brother, as realized in 21st Century society, does not show up as an imposing, ever-present symbol of propaganda and national rule, unmercifully enforced by Thought Police; rather as a free smartphone app that we willingly and happily give access to our personal data and GPS location.
Let’s see… Credit cards. Pre-paid public transportation passes. Electronic toll collection devices. 3-for-1 cable TV/internet/telephone packages. Smart phones. Smart TVs. Hell, smart anything and everything. Cloud storage. Google Calendar. Social media. Subway Surfers. Popcorn Time. Chase Banking App. Hell, any and every kind of app. Unless you’re prepared to build a log cabin and live off the land in the middle of the woods, you either get on the grid early, even eagerly, as an act of indulgence; or later, reluctantly, as a matter of necessity. With each passing year of our generation, the application of web-based technologies advances to give us faster, easier access to more information, products, services and resources. Simultaneously occurring sacrifices – such as privacy – are absent-mindedly regarded (if regarded at all) by most as mild side-effects of an absolutely necessary prescription: convenience.
This is not meant to be a societal analysis; or even an open letter to High School teachers who ask their students goofy questions. It is merely an observation of life as we know it. If we find ourselves servicing a culture that is increasingly engaged by smart devices – and the fastest, least complicated way to get from point A to point B – then, it only naturally follows: the easier we make it for customers to locate, acquire and purchase our products/services, the more effectively our businesses will function; and the more opportunity they will have to flourish.
The successful future of practically any 21st century enterprise will rely on how well it can accommodate what has become a Speed-dial Generation. Easier said than done? Perhaps. However, the first step is acknowledgement. We owe it to ourselves, as entrepreneurs, to recognize the character of the society in which we live and the need to restructure our enterprises accordingly. Actually adapting will, subsequently, become part of an ongoing process… and discussion. Let’s explore some possibilities next post!
Old Paradigm: Big Brother Is Watching You.
New Paradigm: Big Brother Is Following You. Sweet. That makes 10K + 1 Followers.