I recently spent two days at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the largest convention held in Las Vegas every year with more than 150,000 attendees from around the world. I’ve attended dozens of conferences and conventions in Las Vegas for a variety of clients, but nothing prepared me for what I encountered at CES.
The three massive exhibit halls spanned for what seemed like miles and miles as attendees elbowed through the crowd to sneak a peek at the latest and greatest electronic gadgets. Home entertainment systems, automobiles, smartphones, speakers … if it can be powered by electricity (or is in any way related to electricity), it is well represented at CES. I was covering a story for a client, so I was on a mission to seek out very specific products, but I couldn’t help but notice how wide-eyed and impressed people were with all of these electronics. They took pictures of everything on the convention floor, and the Twitter stream coming out of CES was overrun with Tweets about new technology that we supposedly can’t live without … and yet we’ve been living just fine without it up to this point.
A lot of the technology introduced this year addressed people’s needs to be connected all the time. Smartphones are becoming synonymous with existence, it seems, and those who don’t adopt this reliance are going to be shut into the dark ages … at least, that’s what a convention like this would have you believe. The fact that I still carry a planner made of paper is absolutely mind boggling for a lot of people, and the mere idea of sitting down to write a letter confuses many people.
Is this what it’s come down to? Are our smartphones going to rule our lives in such a way that we won’t be able to function in society without them? If that’s the case, are we better off letting go of our ties to things that don’t conform with the technologically-tied world and giving in 100%? If we have to go there anyway, should we leap in with both feet now? What will the future look like in a world where technology is king and everything else just doesn’t exist?