It's starting to happen. People are beginning to forego connectivity in favor of connection. This idea isn't being discussed in some hippie, can't-we-all-just-get-along journal. It's in The Wall Street Journal. It's a business choice that a handful of coffee houses in New York City are making.
Jeremy Lyman turned off the Wifi at his Birch Coffee location after one too many customers complained that it was too slow (my new hero). He braced for the backlash and was surprised when it didn't really come. He noticed that people started talking to each other, and he began to turn tables more quickly. That sounds like good business.
Being connected is not a differentiator anymore. Being disconnected is. Face-to-face interaction is now a competitive advantage. People will start traveling a bit further and paying a bit more in order to buffer from the attention hog that is wifi.
Companies can use this desire to build a different experience for consumers and employees. Very few of us want to disconnect completely, but more and more of us are looking for the thing that made us want to connect in the first place.
Photo: Peter J. Smith for The Wall Street Journal