September 11, 2018

Top-of-Mind Tuesday: 2 Things We’re Pondering Today

by William Turner in News

Last week, we kicked off our weekly ‘Top-of-Mind Tuesday’ blog series. Some weeks you’ll find a crowdsourced list of assorted stuff our staff is pondering and learning and falling in love with, and other times our top-of-mind list will fit into a single theme or come from one particular Havas PR staffer. This week, Melissa Rieger, a Havas PR vice president in our Pittsburgh office, told us what she’s been into lately

What I’m watching… Way too many reboots. When is “the end” not really the end? When we’re in the midst of the “year of the reboots,” spurred by the successful return of “Will and Grace” last year. While the nostalgia in me enjoys the revival of some of my favorite shows, sometimes it’s best to just leave well enough alone. Case in point, I recently learned that Joss Whedon is in talks to revisit my favorite cult classic, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Admittedly, I’m not too keen on the idea—especially if the original cast is not front and center. But like it or not, most of these reboots are bringing in money (and I’ll probably end up watching).

It makes sense for those in the industry to want to capitalize on the current reboot culture—but we also work in an industry in which new, creative ideas often trump the tried and true. Without original thinking, everything can quickly become stale. Sometimes it’s worth taking the risk. Take a look at “Star Wars.” Back in the 1970s, making the movie was seen as a huge risk and George Lucas had trouble getting the funding. Fast-forward to today and “Star Wars” is not only a household name, but also was recently acquired by Disney. (It’s widely known that Lucas was against making “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” I guess he’s not a fan of the reboots, either.) But seriously—can you imagine a world without “Star Wars”? I can’t either. It just goes to show you that even if a few people—even if a lot of people—say your idea is crazy or will never work, to keep on hanging on until the world believes in you as much as you believe in yourself.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

What I’m pondering… Is the same technology that propels us forward also setting us back? Two weeks ago, my oldest daughter transitioned from kindergarten into first grade. That means a few big changes for her—daily homework, weekly tests and a brand spanking new iPad that belongs just to her. While she could do without the homework, she’s very excited about having her own iPad—even if it’s really just smoke in mirrors for giving her more homework, only in digital form. I couldn’t help but wonder: Why the heck does a 6-year-old need an iPad?

Things really have changed quite a bit over the past couple of decades—and even just over the past couple of years. Not so long ago, I typed up my school essays (and college applications) on a typewriter. We didn’t get (dial-up) internet in my house until I was a senior in high school, and I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was a freshman in college. It didn’t have text messaging, let alone unlimited minutes or data, and it was huge. If I needed to do a research paper, I went to the library. I had to “be kind and rewind” my movies and I didn’t grow up with Netflix or Hulu. I survived. But some days I don’t know how I’d survive if I had what I have now taken away from me.

We’ve gotten so used to using technology to help us in every possible way that we may be in danger of destroying what should mean the most to us—relationships. Instead of doing in-person business meetings, we often opt for conference calls or Google Hangouts. And instead of visiting our friends, we communicate through text messaging and social media platforms. I love that Facebook keeps me connected to people I probably wouldn’t otherwise see or talk to—but at the same time, while I keep in touch with my childhood best friend fairly regularly online, I haven’t physically seen or “talked” to her in about a year.

Last weekend after the kids were in bed, my husband had a rare window of time and we decided to shut down from technology completely. I put my cell phone(s) on the kitchen island, turned off the TV and we played a ’90s trivia game, gifted to me by a very cool colleague during our annual Havas PR Christmas in July.

It was glorious. It reminded me of simpler times. When I was my daughters’ age I spent the summer playing outside—or inside with my toys. I grew up with my friends and with constant conversation. Real conversation. I can remember staying up all night talking with friends on a corded telephone—now when I talk to friends in the evening it’s usually over text messaging. The LOL emoji really is no substitute for the real thing.

I have every intention of limiting my daughters’ screen time and waiting as long as humanly possible before getting them their own cell phones. I’m sure it will be an uphill battle—but it may be one worth fighting.