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The End of Conversation

Author: Bill Barnett. Category: News Column - Property Report SEA. Posted: 1st Mar 2013

Drawing comparison's between cave dwellers from the dawn of time and the budding Donald Trumps populating the nearest Starbucks is easy. Trace way back to those early raves at the local cave and you would find small circles of scantily clad folks swapping stories about evading a rampaging T-Rex or ducking to avoid one of those huge flying reptiles the size of an Airbus. Chronicling their lives, loves, fears and ambitions, they covered the walls in graffiti like drawings - let's call it primeval Facebook.

Our model journey has now taken us from the wall of that cave to the small handheld devices we call smartphones, but the trek though the ages has left a need for rite and ritual indelibly tattooed on the human psyche. In this day an age, as our food arrives at the communal restaurant table, everyone reaches for their phones to first take a picture and thank the Gods by immortalising the moment.

As in any of the great religions of the world, worship and prayer to a higher power weaves intricately into our daily lives and today's devout individuals and groups can be seen at any hour of the day, in public or in private, with their heads hung low in silence. Most of the time, the only movement to show the difference between the living and the dead is light tapping on a screen.

As I journey through this so-called modern life, the hairs start to stand up on my neck. Sure, I am already a paranoid soul but there is something more sinister at work. It's not the noir or the slow motion smack in the middle of chemical induced trip. Is it an altered state? Has a great power hit the mute button on life? Not the eery trip from cradle to death or in the metaphorical way, but in the 365, 24/7 daily existence of us all.

We no longer talk. We tweet, Facebook, SMS, swap YouTube links, pin it, poke it, like it and when our souls cry out for something more, we journey far into the darkness just to recharge our phones - much like a holy pilgrimage as we hope to find a plug that works.

Sure we can trace back our techno journey to the start-up called Christianity, but how can you Adam and Eve the apple that Steve Jobs somehow worked into the storyline of the Bible? Early men were connected by the basic human need to speak, share and engage. Today we've become self-inflicted to the fetish of commerce. Bring in the gimp and if there's butter in the refrigerator, throw that in as well - dance the tango with Brando.

The wild world of real estate has embraced the smartphone with the same fervour as Citizen X. Apps, videos, property locators, every form of e-commerce with all the bells and whistles attached. Yet those who would buy property still desire to touch the ground, reach out and feel the lines of reality, and if possible, even speak to someone who is not a machine.

Technology is meant to improve of lives, save us time to engage in far richer pursuits than the everyday mundane. Yet we've become slaves to the smartphone (my head flicks onto one of those Planet of the Apes movies. Hmm possible, but I've not yet seen many monkeys with iPhones). When doing business in the modern world, you have to remember there is a time and place when you have to look someone straight in the eye, take the hands of the screen and actually have a conversation.

The mute button, after all, can be turned off as well as on.

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C9 Hotelworks Founder and Managing Director Bill Barnett is a noted columnist, author and leading authority on travel trend, hotels and property.

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