How Cell Phones Have Changed Our Morality

Yesteryear–the phone rang and we ran to answer it. 

Today–the phone rings in our pocket or hand and we don’t answer it.

Welcome to the new world

A shift in moral obligation has taken place today. The scenario described above illustrates the transfer from an obligation for us to greet someone to an obligation for that someone to understand why they aren’t greeted. This transfer of obligation is a massive shift in our world culture’s collective moral compass and has broad implications across the vast spectrum of communication.   

The Communication War

One consequence of this shift in moral obligation is the transformation of the employment arena. Job seekers and job givers know this fact all-too-well. Whereas once a company posted a job needed to be filled and read all incoming resumes, the vast majority of jobs posted today are not actively seeking placement. Historically, posting a job in the newspaper was expensive–the employer was charged at a rate-per-letterform or line-inch/column. When the job was posted–it was real. Today, with posting on corporate web sites and .com advertising, the rate to advertise a job has plummeted to as little as free. Employers use this low-cost opportunity to ‘fish’ for possible future employees for a simple reason: Because they can.

We Pay a Price for Free

What’s the result of low-cost communication through today’s digital advertising? An avalanche of job seekers flooding corporate communication channels answering an avalanche of so-called ‘current openings’ that employers often post near-permanently. There’s an ironic twist to this desire for low-cost employment: Historically an employer sought a candidate through newspaper advertising that hit one or two zip codes; they received–maybe twelve applicants; they read all twelve resume-cover letters and choose six to interview. Today an employer seeks a candidate through the World-Wide-Web and receives hundreds of candidates–most well-outside the zip code and state–using algorithms and digital parameters to narrow down what they view to twelve within their zip code and interview six candidates.

What’s Our Future In Employment?

At the core of the problem is our acceptance of this moral shift in our world culture. This global shift is very difficult to change and we have been working on it for 10+ years at a feverish pace with a new communications infrastructure that is not going away. We see this shift in morality elsewhere: Written communication–from birthday cards, thank-you notes and more are now a Facebook click–or simply ignored. Where once new neighbors were greeted with some food gift and the neighbor reciprocated with food gift in the original container, today gifts are rarely given and if they are they won’t typically be reciprocated. Visits have been replaced by phone calls; phone calls have been replaced by texting; texting has been replaced by–silence. We communicated once at a desk; today with smart phones that ‘desk’ is more often the toilet; the traffic jam; the exercise machine; the fast food line…

It’s Hard to Sell to Someone on a Toilet

Without knowing the road ahead one will eventually crash. It’s imperative to know the communication climate in one’s time period to weave the communication efforts into a successful result. Yes, the employer may well be reading your resume on a toilet, but at least they are reading it. You should congratulate yourself for getting past the spam filters, the algorithms, the AI Skype and more.

Choose Wisely and Excel

The communication war is certainly going to become more aggressive with time. The cost to market one’s self has plummeted in the arena of professional advertising services, but the cost  in terms of time has sky-rocketed. Time-management is therefore the key in this world for both today and tomorrow. Measuring the value of each media available will be the difference between a successful effort and failure. Just because the world says you should be in this-or-that social media doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true for your pursuit–in short–research the media before your waste your time and when you use it–go all the way.

Have a limit to which media your focus will be on

In most industries today it is an employer’s market. Perfection is demanded. Those candidates who are half-in and half-out with their understanding of the social media they participate in will be seen as ‘not-ready-for-prime-time’ and will struggle.

In the end, those in the job market who avoid the abyss of shifting moral obligation in communication to those who reach out to them–and value their time as well–will find success–be they employer or candidate. 


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