Charging Around

Have we become a plugged-in nation?

In the US there are now over 285 million active wireless devices, and that number could double in 7 years or less. All those devices are taxing our outlets and taxing our minds. A couple of recent studies show that all our time on-line may be affecting our brains. The constant stimulation of Facebook, Twitter, and texting can alter our brain’s neuro-pathways and make it difficult to think deeply and creatively.

But it’s also affecting our power grid. With so many devices looking for so many outlets, it’s inevitable that topping off our batteries will become as important as tanking up our cars. Airline terminals especially need more. At Jet Blue’s new Terminal 5 at JFK Airport in New York, they have 806 plugs available. During peak times it can resemble a computer lab.

All this time plugged in is changing the kinds of demands our power system faces. It is no longer an option to tune in, drop out, and go off the grid when a critical business contact promises to email you the information you need. And heaven help you if your battery is running low.

But adjustments to our mental and physical infrastructure come slower than changes in the social pathways we use. We may have reduced our need to commute physically, from place to place, but our virtual travels will place demands on us that we are just beginning to understand.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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