The impact of the smartphone on our generation
Stéphane Hugon is a sociologist and is the founder of Eranos cabinet.
We envision together a tool that never leaves us: our smartphone.
In September there was this exceptional article in The Atlantic on smartphones and, starting from this article, I wanted to resume with Stéphane the impact that these could have in particular in our French culture.
As a good marketer, I think digital technology forces us to go back to the fundamentals of the human sciences to better understand how and why we act.
And of course, don’t hesitate to subscribe on Apple podcast so you don’t miss an episode.
The smartphone accentuates a natural pendulum swing
If smartphones have been our contemporaries for a little over 10 years, it is important to start again from the link between people and the technical object as an element of mediation between them.
As Stéphane explains to us, since the 1950s, in the West, we have had a very important quest for individual emancipation and autonomy.
However, in the collective imagination, the technological object helps us not to undergo otherness but also to increase our power over our social environment.
In this same movement, we have also had many lone heroes served by the Hollywood industry.
However, according to Stéphane Hugon, we reached a point of saturation in the mid-90s because by pushing for this autonomy and not wanting to endure others, we ended up with a fear of emptiness and boredom.
Finally, the places where there were elements of self-fulfillment (family, religion, work, politics and public life) were largely heckled in this quest.
The consequence was a swing of the pendulum and therefore a unwillingness to escape everything that we had previously fled.
According to Stéphane Hugon, it is therefore this pendulum movement that explains this almost unhealthy desire to recreate social ties and therefore to find one’s tribe, one’s sphere, but also to refocus.
Today to become someone, you have to prove that you exist in the eyes of the other.
Moreover, Stéphane explains to us that the Selfie is not really a purely narcissistic act because it is only fully accomplished if it is shared.
It is therefore the gaze of the other and his judgment which are essential and which allow me to become myself.
On the one hand, there is a construction of oneself and on the other a reference audience that we want to please.
The smartphone is another’s promise but….
The smartphone is therefore a tool that allows you to connect to others above all, but in reality, we notice it, young people have never been so alone.
It is therefore an unfulfilled relationship because technically the passage to the act hardly ever happens.
It therefore keeps the adolescent in an experience which is “short of the experience”.
This calls into question questions as important as:
What is a friend? What is the social bond? What is a relationship?
These digital links ultimately lead to soft relationships according to Stéphane Hugon.
However, the latter affirms that this remains a transition and remains convinced that technologies will allow us tomorrow to bring us to strong and whole relationships carried by a long movement of a need to re-rooted with our cultural, social and natural environment. .
The smartphone cannot and must not replace social relations
It is obviously essential that young people understand these technologies, develop this culture but on the other hand this should not isolate the adolescent.
Finally when we are in co-presence, that is to say in the same room but each on his phone, according to Stéphane, there is a weak relationship between the participants.
It would be silly to ban the smartphone, but we must instead find areas of porosity to allow teens to be in a fluidity between the real social relationship with the humans around them while using their smartphone as a a link tool (to show a video or a photo for example).
We can see it on restaurant tables, the telephone is not necessarily an obstacle to communication but rather a vector of an illustration, finally the conversation is done at 3 somewhere.
Gregory Pouy is the founder of LaMercatique, a digital transformation consulting firm focused on the marketing part. Based between New York and Paris, he is a marketing “expert” for FrenchWeb.fr. To follow his writings and discuss with him: