The Future of Human Behaviour with Thimon de Jong

Examining how technology is influencing human behaviour has never felt more important. 

These days we seem to always have something electronic in our hands and most children play with an iPad before they can even talk. 

So, if technology is bringing our physical and digital worlds together, how will this impact the way we interact with each other? 

This is a huge question, so Mike didn’t hold back when speaking with Dutch Futurist Thimon de Jong for this episode of Futurists World.

Mike was interested in meeting Thimon as they both started their careers in similar fields.  Mike studied journalism and cut his teeth producing documentaries on youth culture.  Thimon also started in journalism. And as a subculture enthusiast, it led him to the role of editor-in-chief of Reload, Holland’s leading youth culture magazine.

But who actually is Thimon de Jong? 

Residing in the Netherlands, Thimon has traded youth culture for social trends, and is now considered an expert in the strategic business impact of future human behaviour and societal change. He is also a popular keynote speaker and trainer. 

Thimon’s strategic foresight has informed the strategy of many global organisations, including Microsoft, Ikea, and Vodafone.

For more than a decade, he has been questioning future trends and what they means for business planing. 

Thimon believes that understanding human behaviour is the key way organisations can prepare for a changing world. 

When Mike met Thimon 

Fortunately, Mike was able to visit Thimon in his home town of Amsterdam before the horrible pandemic stopped anyone from going anywhere. 

If you watch the conversation, you’d be forgiven for thinking Mike is vertically challenged, but rest assured, Mike is a man of average height! Thimon is just really tall.

Some trivia that might interest you: the average Dutchman is 183cm (6ft) tall. Scientists have even tried to answer the question on why Dutch people are so tall. 

Now that’s out of the way, let’s unpack what Mike and Thimon spoke about. 

So, is technology actually changing human behaviour? 

It’s hard to deny that technology has enriched our lives. But do you ever think about how many hours we miss because we’re staring at our phones? 

It’s estimated that we spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes looking at our devices each day. We also apparently check our phones a whopping 58 times per day too, and most of these glances occur during business hours. 

Thimon thinks that society norms have totally shifted due to our smartphone dependence. 

You might be at a café with a friend, but if you receive a text message you’ll likely feel compelled to respond, or at least read it. Often, it doesn’t even matter how interesting the real-world conversation you’re engaged with is – you simply cannot deny that message on a neuro level. Thimon says it’s a “bit like a drug addiction”.

Surely this behaviour must have significant consequences if you’re in a business meeting. And what about a date? How do you control your digital addiction in a romantic situation? 

Thimon has posed this question to the university students he lectures, and they told him that they impose screen time allowances on each other. 

They actually say, ‘phones away’. And after that, ‘phone time’ and they tap away for a few minutes.’  

Wow, what a time to be alive! 

Will we ever strike a perfect balance between the online and offline spaces? 

Thimon believes we’re currently experimenting with how to fuse the digital and physical worlds so that they can co-exist harmoniously. 

He also says it’s opening up a new dialogue between partners around how to manage their time together. 

We are learning and sometimes failing, but we are slowly mastering how to be in a relationship with a human and our phones. 

Of course, our need for screens is also influencing the way businesses are run. For example, Silicon Valley has implemented a ‘device free meeting’ trend. Thimon says attendees are actually asked to leave their laptops and phones in a copper grid wired box that doesn’t receive a signal. 

It’s really hard to imagine some of the most connected people in the USA being so … disconnected. 

One day, will we completely want to switch off? 

Thimon thinks that eventually some of us may tire of being so accessible through technology. 

He has a theory that human behaviour will often “bounce back” to a different time. He calls on the invention of the electric knife in 1964 as as a prime example of this. 

When everything became electrified during the 60s and 70s, the electric knife was a common kitchen utensil. But who has one these days? 

So does Thimon have hope for the future of human behaviour? 

In essence, yes. 

Thimon believes in the good of people and their ability to take care of others. He says as a species, human beings are endlessly creative at finding new solutions to complex problems. 

So even as our relationship with technology intensifies, it doesn’t necessary mean we will lose the skill to connect with each other in real time. 

He says technology is not all good for the way humans behave , but it’s not all bad either. 

We’re just slowly developing a new etiquette. 


A lot of ground was covered in this episode of Futurists World and this write up barely scratches the surface. 

You can watch the episode here or if this conversation isn’t enough you can tune into the full episode on the Futurists.World podcast.

And be sure to subscribe on YouTube and sign up so you don’t miss any episodes in future. 

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The purpose of this series is to move humanity forward, think bigger and cast our minds into the future.

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