Thanks to advances in technology, we’ve never had so many ways to communicate with one another. Theoretically, we are able to reach our family, friends, and even brands by phone, email, text, tweet, or Facebook post – to name but a few options. So why does it sometimes feel as though in this modern age, it’s impossible to be really heard?
Glass Bubbles are the often impenetrable communication bubbles that everyone – from individuals to corporations – retreat into in order to avoid meaningful, real-time communication. These bubbles can create chaos between colleagues, ineffective communications between internal departments, and eventually build real barriers between a business and its existing or potential customers. Left unpopped, they can have a detrimental effect on businesses of any size across every sector.
Glass Bubbles are becoming more and more common with people enclosed inside, who you can see and there is the façade of transparency, but these bubbles are often impenetrable. Glass Bubbles are everywhere, the lone individual chatting animatedly into their phone, unaware of their surroundings and oblivious to any form of communication outside of their bubble. You can see them, you can hear them but you can’t get through to them. The receptionist at the doctors you can talk to her but you can’t get your message across, she has the power inside her bubble and she has the control and you are stuck outside powerless. Big business have Glass Bubbles around themselves, never has there been more ways to communicate but never has it been more difficult to be heard. I’m reminded of one of my many experiences of Glass Bubbles when I was trying to sort out my home broadband connection with whom, I was proudly told, is the biggest communications company in the world. Yet I couldn’t communicate with them, I rang and bounced endlessly around a system being, cut off, promised resolutions by anonymous individuals safe inside the bubble who’s promised actions that never happened and who I couldn’t get back in touch with. My emails were logged and acknowledgements sent and I was endlessly told how important I was to them but I have rarely felt so invisible, frustrated and superfluous. If I threatened to close my account the bored bubble dweller simply offered to transfer me through to cancellations and then cut me off. Have you experienced this? Have you banged your head on the Glass Bubbles of our communication age, shouting ineffectually at the people inside whose higher power level blocks their ears as effectively as high pressure in an aircraft perhaps they just need to swallow their pride to be able to hear us?
The corporate Glass Bubbles loom over us. As they stare down through the thick walls of their bubble their distorted view making us appear small and unclear, perhaps it’s no wonder that while they may say they are keen to communicate with us, actually, the opposite is true. From the Health Service to the Local Council, from Government to Technology behemoths, we have never felt so shut out, our concerns, our views and our voices so insignificant and distant. Is it any wonder then that when we find a crack, an opportunity to have our say, that we don’t stand calmly stating our case instead we rampage, we shout, we holler our unmuzzled frustration in the brief moment that their bubble is weakened, before once again the communication walls are in place and the power balance is returned to uneven. This is what I believe happened with Brexit, a political system so entrenched in its bubble that it barely seemed aware there was anyone outside it and certainly how disenchanted, disenfranchised and ignored the majority felt, so when the vote came this glorious crack in the bubble, the majority surged through the gap, prising it open seeking to shatter their cosy bubble leaving those inside unprotected in the cold air of reality. It wasn’t Brexit the majority wanted, Brexit was merely the opportunity to smash the Glass Bubbles in Westminster and Europe and drag those inside out into the real world. The EU was the collateral damage as the bubbles were smashed. America is in the same position. A population so disenchanted, that when a blunt instrument like Trump promises to smash the Glass Bubbles of the American political establishment he can appeal to many and possibly even the majority of Americans.
What about the corporate Glass Bubbles how do we mere mortals breach their cosy power spheres? Persistence is crucial we must scratch away at the surface circling it’s outer perimeter searching for an in, this could be a friendly voice inside the bubble who is prepared to help you breach the boundary. It could be a support group or watch dog who have their own Glass Bubble to threaten them with, a corporate hybrid of marbles or conkers where they can clash until one or other admits defeat or is damaged and defaults. We can band together, each of us with our feeble Glass Bubbles can stand together until our boundaries merge and our combined power makes us a force, if not to be reckoned with, at least to be recognised.
What of the individual Glass Bubbles within your own circle of family or friends? These can be hardest to burst. The teenager impervious inside their communication sphere, mobile phone in hand as oblivious to those outside the selfie fortified social media sphere, as the deep sea diver in his craft forging myopically the deep ocean regarding the alien fauna outside his Glass Bubble with anything from polite indifference to fear. The parental flapping and gaping mouths as incomprehensible as they are comical, to be studied as an alien creature and then ignored, as how could anything so different have anything of use to say?
Are the numbers of Glass Bubbles growing? Yes, I believe so. There have always been power imbalances and there have always been those who lived their lives behind what was then termed closed doors. But now the realms of power have shifted and those in the Glass Bubbles, as they are now, cannot command us to do or buy what they want, as overt demonstrations of power are not accepted in our communication age so they must appear to be accessible, amenable and transparent. There for our own good, there for our benefit, tuned in to our needs and serving our best interests. But if you reach out to touch them you find that they are secure behind their reinforced communication walls, you can’t meet and talk with anyone. Those you converse with are themselves trapped like flies on a windscreen between the layers of glass, not allowed into the centre but trapped in an outer layer, powerless voice pieces for those within. They mitigate their powerlessness with blithe assertions and unaccountable actions aware that they are no more valued or permanent than a dejected insect on a windscreen, as they too can be wiped away should a blip on a graph indicate they’re no longer financially viable. Their self-preservation response is to act with impunity, not caring for those within the bubble who have forced them onto the communication frontline, ill equipped and with no back up and loathing of those outside the bubble, who once they cared about but, now are merely disembodied voices who punctuate their days with requests and questions that they answer with no scrap of confidence. Shaking off the feeling of futility each night with a wine and a whine both of which leave them fuzzy headed as they slide back into their seats next morning and stare out through the computer screen port holes of their corporate Glass Bubble.
So what do we do? Well at Cortecs we have been developing a range of strategies to penetrate each level of Glass Bubble. Step outside your Glass Bubble and get in touch and we’ll explain how we can help burst the glass bubbles that impact you. We are also continuing our research in this area, so if you or your business has been affected by Glass Bubbles or you are aware of the being trapped inside or outside a Glass Bubble please email your story with complete confidentiality to firstname.lastname@example.org