Un-tethered Sex and Mobile Life.

My mobile lifeIn the ever-growing world of smartphones and our mobile life, one thing has become fairly clear: We all love our own phone, but we hate yours. A self indulgent view of life amongst mobile & social technologies. Mobile life has become the norm, but it doesn’t mean we all have equal ideas about it.

Mobile Life

Smartphones have changed how many of us communicate, build communities, interact with our world and share our daily lives. These devices can also drive us crazy, but not because of our own perfectly acceptable consumer behavior, but of the irritating habits of those around us, entrenched in their mobile life.

Over the years, I’ve been an keen observer of people. Yes, I’m a creepy guy on the train or in a cafe that watches everyone else with curiosity. I’ve had a long, self-reflecting journey towards recognizing that many of my thoughts were based in judgments of others. I didn’t realize it for years. When i hypothesize about someone’s background, motivation or behavour, I am seeing them through my lens.

I used to think I had strong opinions, was decisive, and able to “evaluate” others. I “got” people. I understood where they were coming from, their motivations, and why they said what they said and did what they did. It was an skill that brought me great success. I was a highly skilled definer, and an even better dismisser. Once I’d figured you out, my opinions were set in stone. I didn’t leave much room for changing those opinions either. Once I’d decided, that was it. You were what you were, according to me.

With the benefit of time and hindsight, I’ve come to realize that since I was actively embracing a life of personal growth (or “working on my stuff,” as I like to call it), I somehow felt that gave me free rein to comment on what others were doing. However it wasn’t until I spent large amounts of time in markets I consciously knew I didn’t know to awaken my radar. Time in countries like Cambodia, Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where mobile life takes on an entirely new form. Where consumer behavior is nothing like it is in Singapore, Australia or the United States.

You see everyone’s view of the world is personal. So in a world connected through powerful ecosystems and technologies like smartphones, everyone’s personal context is becoming hyper unique. So who are we to judge others. Mobile life is a personal thing, and in a world gone mad with sharing, smartphones have become the ultimate tool of self expression.

Annoy Mobile Life Habits

So when CNN posted an insightful summation of the new breed of untethered consumers and their mobile life, I took it as a challenge to understand these crazy and at sometimes crude new consumer behavior. CNN’s list, in no particular order, are the 10 things that drive us craziest about smartphones and the people who love them. No doubt you’ve come across at least half of these as annoyances from others, but how many of these mobile life sins should you be confessing?

The Behind-the-Wheel Chatterbox
The Movie Theater Lightning Bug
The Bathroom Stall Texter (or Talker)
The Smartphone Superiority Complex
The Social Situation Dropout
Waiting for the Next Big Thing
Bluetooth, or Crazy Person?
The ‘App for That’ Joker
The Dirty Cheater
The Disappearing Non-Vibrator

mobile lifeDepending on your perspective, you may have thought certain places were off limits to use your mobile phone, but think again. According to a study by Jumio last year, Americans use smartphones just about everywhere, even in the most compromising or immoral situations: during sex (9%), in the shower (12%), and even while at church (19%). Yes, you read correct 9% of Americans admits to using their smartphones DURING sex. Are they checking sports scores? Taking a selfie? Alternatively calling their Mum? Either way, it’s a mobile life behavior anomaly many of us would struggle to understand.

Smartphones Selfie

Selfies in themselves have taken on an entire culture of their own. While the culture surrounding selfies could be positive and even creative self-expression for some, or a fun and easy way of sharing one’s sexuality, it’s a trend that brings up some disturbing issues and important questions. The digital self-portrait, taken at varying flattering angles and with varying degrees of success, has been declared word of the year for 2013, according to Britain’s Oxford University Press. If you’re curious like I was, the word “selfie” first appeared over ten years ago in 2002 – which is medieval in digital time – in Australia.

The Jumio study, titled Mobile Consumer Habits study shares a reality that many of us have now accepted: we can’t part from our most treasured devices. In fact, nearly three in four Americans (72%) say they’re within five feet of their smartphones the majority of the time. So although some of us may think these places are inappropriate for mobile phone usage, a number of Americans still embrace their phones in the following places: In a movie theater (35%), during a dinner date (33%), and at a child’s or school function (32%). Making a strong connection between the habits that annoy us, and those that people now confess. “Mobile life” is truly becoming just “our life.”

Changing Mobile Life Social Norms

What does all this tell us? It’s a clear demonstration that mobile devices can change consumer behavior, even create entirely new forms of culture. Carrying around a connected, intelligent device is now such an embedded part of our lives, we’ve started to bring our own unique perspectives to the surface. Many of the things we do today with our mobile devices, where at some point in the past frowned upon.

So whether you love to Instagram everything you eat, #Selfie SnapChat everything you consider wearing, or Foursquare Checkin at every place you visit, one thing is for certain. The evolution of consumer behavior driven by untethered and mobile life is only just beginning. And it most certainly will impact entire industries as they race to keep up with the change. For the majority of organisations they have no idea what the motivation, or consumer psychological model is behind these habits and behaviors. Putting them well behind when it comes to understanding these people. Leaving the door wide open for dozens of opportunities for organisation to pounce on behavioural shift opportunities like the Amazon on books, and Instagram on photography.

It’s time to learn some new consumer behavior understanding skills before your organisation falls behind. As the use of smartphones becomes more and more widespread, so does the need for companies to know how to use mobile to impact their customers. More than 50% of cellphone users have smartphones, and more than 25% use tablets. With those kinds of numbers, internet use of mobile devices is quickly overtaking that of PC’s. And because more searches are being done using smartphones, business owners need to consider how to make information about their company more readily available and easy to navigate.

Will you be left behind in the age of smartphones and mobile life?

© Scott Bales 2014. All Rights Reserved.