Friday, May 11, 2012

Wandering Cocoons

Back in 2010 I posted Cocooning 2.0.  More specifically I introduced the concept of wandering cocoons – people moving around in their own mobile wireless world.  I validated this past month due to a heavy travel schedule, wandering cocoons continue to morph.

Read On:
Tuesday I was sitting at Midway airport in Chicago and I observed the following:
  •        There were six seats in front of me in the waiting area.  From left to right, two people had their Apple computers up, one individual was on their crackberry, one individual was reading their Kindle, one individual was on their iPad plus having a phone conversation via their Bluetooth device and the remaining individual was zoned out (legs twitching) thanks to their Beats™ headphones.   
  • There were twin sisters to my left.  One was reading a book, the other their Kindle.  Zero family connectivity. 
  •        The individual to my right was playing Sudoku on their htc smartphone.
Candidly the only connectivity I witnessed in the Southwest Airlines waiting area was to my left, up against the wall where people were competing to charge their gizmos in the wall sockets.

Wandering cocoons continue to morph.  Will we ever engage with our fellow travelers again?


  1. Steve MontgomeryMay 11, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    I have noticed similiar phenomenon during breaks at various meetings. People used to walk out and heads were up looking to see who eslse was there, ready to engage in conversation, etc. Today it heads down checking email, who called, etc.

  2. Jimmy,

    When you are worried about your job, and work in a country/culture that has the highest number of hours/week worked and the fewest vacation hours, and mix it with an obscene form of travel, you get the result you observed.

    Could the people you saw been texting their significant others or children? Could they have been reading as a way of escaping the environment or stress?

    I think there are societal factors at play that are causing the behavior you noticed, not the ready availability of mobile devices. I think the devices are being used to offset some of the negative aspects of our current culture.

  3. I disagree with both of Robert's points. Lack of interpersonal connection can also be observed in Europe where they have more vacation/holidays and work fewer hours than Americans. Also observed in Asia where they work more hours than Americans. The technological revolution is ubiquitous. There is an ongoing sociological revolution that has been driven by and enabled by technology. Which came first, the technology or the disaffection and disconnection? I can't say for sure. But I know they seem to feed on one another. Moore's law that used to define how quick technology will change seems to also apply inversely to changes in societal norms. The more technology people have, the less likely we are to engage in campfire conversations, dinner table conversations, and other people to people interactions. But is that always technology related? I am not sure. If you rode the subway or the bus in NYC or Philly, or a lot of other places in the 60's, 70's and 80's, you would have observed heads down in newspapers, books, or in out the window gazes at the nothingness speeding by. It was a rare bird who engaged their seatmate in conversation back then. My question- is technology our excuse for doing what humans have always done? We have always tried to find ways to escape the noise and distractions around us. Perhaps technological devices are our excuse for doing what we've always done- Escape

  4. I always engage the good looking girls in conversation. But that's me.

  5. Thank you for your comments. Some interesting observations. I have an additional spin. We have a whole generation that have grown up with technology being the spine of their interpersonal communications. Consequently older generations have been forced to embrace technology to either communicate with their younger relationships or to demonstrate they are with it so they can stay Forever Young.

  6. No wonder our younger workers are not knowing how to create a "personal touch" in their service delivery to others. They are being "trained" to not have a personal touch.

  7. Jimmy (and Wally)

    This recent HBR posting ( suggests that social interaction via technology has a strong impact in the way we a sense we get a pleasurable feeling from using the technology. (At least for Facebook.)

    This "reward" coupled with other, perhaps negative social and cultural trends may help explain the cocooning behavior that Jimmy observes.

    The long term implications of the melding of these two forces may be significant, both for Marketers as well as our civilization.