Cigarettes and Cell Phones

by John Cloonan | Dec 20, 2021 | Blog, Marketing & Branding, Technology, The Digital World

Do you remember those anti-smoking advertisements from a few years ago? They’re brilliant. In concept, they show someone being forced to leave something they enjoy doing to go smoke. Tag line: Cigarettes are bullies. But it suddenly occurred to me: have you ever thought about your phone that way?  

I recently got a new phone. One of the great things with most new smartphones is that setup time is virtually zero. Most of my apps automatically are reinstalled, my contacts get pulled from the cloud — it’s all seamless. However, there is one thing that doesn’t set itself up — notifications. It took me forever to shut off the notifications I don’t want. After a few minutes, I started picturing that anti-cigarette ad: my phone may be a bully. 

It’s an extension of Judith Martin’s idea that the telephone is the single rudest device ever invented – it’s like having your mail carrier come to your door and demand that you read your mail immediately. All the notifications on your phone are a demand for your immediate attention. The vast majority of them deserve no attention at all. Consider the days prior to owning a smartphone. If you got an email, when did you read it? You read it when you were sitting in front of a computer. There wasn’t an expectation that you’d be notified, read it, and respond immediately. Social media notifications are very much the same – essentially group email.  

Consider this for your sanity and productivity — don’t let your phone bully you. Turn off all the notifications you can stand to turn off. You won’t miss much, and your phone becomes a tool, rather than a bully.  

Marketing Guy & Strategic Polymath | Website | + posts

John’s the founder of Audacity Marketing. When he’s not racing motorcycles, he’s building marketing strategies for Audacity clients and anyone else who’ll listen.

John’s worn all the marketing hats, from consultant to agency owner to executive to university professor. He’s held leadership roles in industries from staffing to behavioral health to capital-C consulting. He’s branded or rebranded over 100 companies.

John buttresses 25+ years in marketing with an MBA from Georgia State University.

John lives with his girlfriend Suzanne, his dog Seamus, and his daughter Annie when she shows up from college.