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Socially aware at O'Hare – how the online world has changed the offline reality

I have been bad blogger lately!  My travels have taken me to the Windy City and next week to Banff, Alberta to speak at the Travel Alberta Industry Conference.  I can’t wait to be back in the Canadian Rockies, although this is too much time to be spending in airports. 

As I was walking through Chicago’s O’Hare last night a few things struck me that have compelled me once again to type!  I happened to be on time – one might say even early for my flight (a very rare occurrence) and although the airport offers WIFI, and my blackberry lights were blinking, I found myself observing the other late night travellers wondering around the Concourse.  It struck me as I was not buried into my phone or furiously typing on my keyboard that especially in a place like Concourse C in O’Hare – technology and the increased access to the web has taken over human interaction.
The night before at dinner I had a lively discussion with a friend about how text messaging, facebook and PDA’s will be the death of social interaction and it seems that after what I observed in the airport last night that this is not too far in our future.  Although the Blackberry does enable me to have a mobile office and not have hours of emails to answer when I do return to my desk, I have made the commitment to turn it off at night.  Yes – I did it!  It hurt a little, but as my friend and I discussed, the ultimate way to ruin a good conversation is to look down at your phone or PDA and answer a text message while someone is speaking to you.   I guess in a place like Concourse C – it is normal to look mostly at your laptop or cell phone when speaking to another human being.

Although an airport is not a typical social space as it is usually made up of single travellers who are too tired to interact anyway – it kind of scared me to think that this is what typical social interaction (or lack there of) might look like in the future.

The other “chick” Patricia just recently released an article outlining the demographics of the new social media audience.  After taking the time to be “aware in O’Hare” last night – I would say that I was in a world of the “Social Connected’s” as Patricia defined them – and they were certainly connected to their portable devices and not to other people! 

I guess we do need to understand the demographics of this audience to market effectively to them as I am not sure that I saw anyone take their Ipod out long enough to hear anything or look up long enough to see anything.   I will let you know how Calgary airport compares – I am thinking I might not be looking at quite the same type of airport activity – but I will keep you posted!

[tags]social media, blogging, demographics, a couple of chicks, emarketing, facebook, blackberry, text messaging, social media marketing[/tags]

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