Will the Internet of Things Make Us Dumb?

As CES wrapped in early January, all things shiny, cool and tech were on the top of many people’s minds, from the consumers who want to buy them, to the journalists who write about them, and to the marketers who must, simply put, market them.

Look, I know I’m coming off pretty curmudgeonly, which is a little upsetting since I just turned 34 last week. But why do we need a refrigerator with a built in tablet, speakers and camera that photographs the inside of the fridge every time you close the door?

What’s wrong with having your tablet on the kitchen counter displaying the latest Pinterest-worthy recipe you’re trying, music playing from your laptop on the table … and yeah, sorry, no a photo of the inside of my fridge is not going to help me shop (you know, because items get placed in front of other items, blocking the view, oh nevermind I feel my blood pressure rising).

Let me repeat: I love tech. I find new technology exciting, but COME ON. What technologist dreamed of making a smart fridge? Where are the dreamers who want to innovate something that will push humanity into the new age?

I think we should ask ourselves if some of these new IoT devices are truly important — and thus worth putting our marketing minds behind — and which of these items are making consumers lazy, and yes, dumb. We already can’t remember phone numbers because of our smart phones … are we going to forget how to cook, or do anything that can be replaced with pushing a button?

It all sort of reminds me of something Dr. Ian Malcolm says in Jurassic Park:

Scientists are actually preoccupied with accomplishment. So they are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to ask if they should do something.

Cylon toasterOkay, rant over, but let me leave you with two things to keep in mind if you are running full force into the wide embrace of the IoT:

  • Skynet
  • Cylons


Author: Melissa Ward

Melissa Ward is the managing editor for Target Marketing, and she has opinions! More importantly, she's a nerd for great copy and design, a disciple of authenticity, and really loves it when marketers get it right.

3 thoughts on “Will the Internet of Things Make Us Dumb?”

  1. Great article! Skynet/Cylons gave me a good laugh. As you imply, obviously you can extrapolate Dr. Malcolm’s quote to just about any kind of R&D endeavor. And yes, shouldn’t we ask if what is being invented is necessary, good or useful–or if it’s just intellectual one-upsmanship? So-and-so invented X, so I will invent X+1! I work in higher education and sometimes I have to ask, “But WHY? Does anyone need this course/program? Are we just offering it because it sort of sounds like something else we offer, or it has a buzzword in the title?”

    1. Thanks Stephanie! You make a great point about how we need to be asking “why?” (which is one of my favorite questions to ask.) I heard Kristina Halvorson speak at CMWorld last year and she made a great point about how so many marketers/companies AREN’T asking “why are we doing this?” but instead are just running forward full force into muck and mire. Just because we CAN do something, doesn’t mean that we SHOULD 🙂 (And I’m glad you liked my Cylons/Skynet references … just had to show a bit more of my geekgirlness)

  2. IoT has already made us smarter than we could have imagined and it started 20 years ago with M2M (machine-to-machine) communications. IoT will continue to simplify our lives ridding us of unnecessary redundancies so we can use our brains to be more creative, learn more, explore more and have more fun.

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