“No, it was 1963, I’m sure of it!” “It’s 1964, really.” “Oh just Google it.” “Hmm, it says here 196…WHAT IS THAT?!”

Pointing out the monster on the wing is way better than being proven wrong by the omniscient Google. It wasn’t always this simple to drop a knowledge bomb, though.

How quickly we forget. In 2007, Apple ushered in the modern smartphone era. Before the iPhone, we either had “smart” phones or Blackberry’s. Neither category was particularly good at browsing the Internet. No Siri or Google Assistant in those days, either. Unless it was essential, you waited to research when back at a computer. But the web still had hold.

Let’s go back even further, before the Internet, like, the 80s. Big hair, boomboxes, leg warmers, neon clothing…got it? If you didn’t know something, you asked another person. Or, crazy as it sounds today, drove to the library. Society operated without all the answers at our fingertips and Def Leppard had no idea how much reverb they used.

Last month, I met a group of friends in Peru to hike the Inca Trail. 5 days, 4 nights of grueling steps, towering mountains, and no wi-fi. We used our phones solely as cameras and flashlights. Roughing it, I know. The separation from our always-on culture began on the flight to Lima. “Please switch all cellular phones to airplane mode.” My phone remained in this state until landing again in Florida. Have you seen roaming charges?

A number of times during our trek, a question was posed. Nothing too substantial, just, “hey, what song has the line?” or “how long is that other trail?” Yet we couldn’t look it up! Being disconnected caught us all off-guard. And it was wonderful.

When instant answers are available, conversations falter. With no reason to think, debate, or discuss, you move on to the next topic. No depth, no connection. Call me old-fashioned, but I enjoy a chat wherein we don’t have every fact at our immediate disposal. Imagine a debate about sports stats…done with a Siri request. Sure, now we all know, but where was the fun, the light-hearted arguments, the silly bets, and the social bonds?

Lifestyle guidance sites sometimes recommend disconnect periods, full separation from technology, to get back with yourself. Whether it’s an hour a day or a week per year, the effect is the same; active thought coupled with in-person communication.

It’s tempting to want every new technology for your members, and I’m not suggesting abandoning any of these efforts. Millennials and other generations alike seek the simplicity of modern conveniences. However, once you have these things, everyone is the same. Whether you’re a $5B national credit union, a $25M community charter, or a bank with America in its name, the experience is similar. If your member turns on Airplane Mode, do you stand out?

Image credit: https://support.apple.com/en-us/ht204234, circa 2015