The formation of new habits is an intensive brain training exercise. But it is not an easy one. In fact, it takes many conditions and joint efforts to bring an individual, and a society, to change the way they do things. On a broader level, it is frequently terrible events, such as wars, depressions, or natural disasters that trigger the largest changes in a whole group.
But this article is not about disasters, it is about forming new habits in our real world, in our lives, and how it affects our brain. Take the example of mobile phones, a device used by the most of the population. For decades, the only telephones available to the general public were landline ones. Although the mobile phone technology was developed since as early as the 40’s, it was not until the early 90’s that the market really started to boom, and became mainstream in most countries by the end of the decade.
Why did it take so long? For one, the technology and the call quality were not close enough to the landlines to convince for a change (the distance from the current habit to the new one was still large). The price and size of the products inhibited an effortless change, as well as the price of the communications (the usage frequency was not encouraged). The mainstream influencers (cinema and TV essentially) took a long time to adopt this new technology and to introduce it as a common or normal habit. Net, most of the conditions for a new habit development didn’t exist until the 90’s.
The change to a habit of being available on the phone anywhere and anytime has been slow at first, but once the barriers were correctly addressed a revolution happened. Our brain quickly adapted to the new way of communicating, and has changed the way it perceives the reality. Today, the big question for the telecom companies is not whether the landlines will be over someday or not, but rather when will they be totally substituted by the mobile world. Interestingly, in some countries that missed most of the early telecommunications’ development, the mobile phones are stepping ahead of landlines as the first national network (mainly in some African countries).
Today we have already gone over the mobile phone period, we’re in the broadband mobile internet and data era. Our lives will never be the same, our brain has totally adapted to living with mobile communications and plan the actions based in that habit. And with it, new challenges arise: if you had a date today with your friend at the shopping mall, would you be able to find him/her without your mobile phone? Surely the answer is an easy yes, but it’s not that sure it would be that simple.