It’s time for Episode #22, and today we’re discussing the issue of always being connected to technology. We introduce the idea of biohacking by technology companies as they compete to obtain our attention, as well as discuss the inability of many of us to leave work at the office. Technology isn’t bad in and of itself, but it takes conscious effort to be sure you’re using it as a tool to promote positive behaviour, rather than letting it take control of your life.
Key Message: Use technology consciously
A quick summary of what we talk about today:
Life before the Internet
Being disrupted by a notification
Benefits of technology
Having meaningful conversations
In today’s society, we have infinite knowledge and incredible technology in our pockets at all times, well unless they’re in our hands that is. Our smartphones have more computing power in them, then all of NASA did when they started sending astronauts into space, which is just mind-boggling to think about. We have the internet, text messages, social media, Google all accessible at any time of the day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Even if you live in the most rural of areas anywhere in the world, the internet is coming to you if the likes of Elon Musk have anything to do with it; he’s sending possibly up to as many as 42,000 satellites into near orbit to provide global internet coverage. While the benefits of an internet connection cannot be overstated, it has created what some might try to shrug off as just another first world problem, but it’s that of being always connected, always contactable.
In the past, when you left the office, for the most part, the work stayed behind, and people could focus all of their energy on home life and just take a break. Now, with emails coming directly to your phone, managers calling you in on your days off, or even just colleagues messaging you to chat about something happening at work, it starts to consume more and more of our lives until there is no longer a distinction between work and life; so much so that the concept of “work-life balance” had to be created as an ideal to strive for.
It’s not only work where the concept of always-connected has crept into our lives. How many of us have sent a message on Facebook or Instagram rather than send a text, just so that we know if the other person has seen it or not? I’m sure even more of you listening have felt some sense of annoyment at someone when you know they’ve seen your message, and they still haven’t responded as fast as you would like. Very rarely in these moments do we ever stop to consider what the other person might have going on in their life at that very moment. Perhaps they’re out to dinner with the family; perhaps they’re watching a fascinating documentary, perhaps they saw the message as they were just jumping in their car and haven’t had a chance to reply as they’re still driving. Life is full of reasons as to why someone hasn’t replied instantly, but it’s precisely because now we’re constantly connected that our expectations have shifted to bordering on the unreasonable. If you were to talk to those of older generations, I’m sure many would share stories of love letters sent to crushes across the country and around the world which took months to receive a reply.
Children aren’t playing outside, people are wasting time browsing social media, we’re sleeping less, becoming more easily distracted, losing patience, expecting everything instantly, and foregoing real in-person connections for the ease of online communication. Expectations have shifted so dramatically within one generation that the feeling of intergenerational separation has never been greater. We are at risk of losing the ability to create meaningful connections with those around us, as well as the ability to deep think, to take time considering the many aspects of a topic, conducting research and coming to a conclusion. Opinions are as fleeting as the news headlines they’re almost exclusively based on, and anything taking longer than instant is cause for annoyance.
The good however is that we can stay connected with anyone we like, chat with people across the globe, learn anything, experience new things we’d never do ourselves, get inspired, stay creative, dream big and multi-task like you wouldn’t believe.
Check out your screen time on each of the major social media apps. Are you surprised by what you see? Are there any apps where you’ve spent more time on than you realized?
Consider leaving your phone in the other room when making dinner, or leaving it in the office when you go to get coffee with your colleagues. Consider leaving the smartwatch at home every now and then, particularly if you’re out with friends or having a once in a lifetime experience. We’ll talk more specifically about the Instagram culture in today’s society in another episode, but sometimes experiencing the moment without needing to document every aspect for your followers can increase the feeling of sincerity and enjoyment you feel at the time. When looking back on your life as you age, remembering the moments shared with friends in honest, raw emotion expression will stay with you longer than the Insta story that disappears after 24hrs.
Stu’s Quote of the Day
E. O. Wilson’s concise observation that humans have “paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology.” – Tristan Harris: Tech Is ‘Downgrading Humans.’ It’s Time to Fight Back