I have written many times over the past decade about living in a world where being surrounded by noise, distraction and drama is the norm, but it seems that others are taking notice and actually writing about it more frequently and realizing it isn’t good for us and that we have no hope of turning any of it off.
This was first written about in 1980 (I know the dark ages for you perhaps) by Jack Trout in his book “Positioning”; where his said: “…we live in the world’s first over-communicated society…”
A mere 8 million desk top computers were sold in 1982 in the US.
The first records on cell phones weren’t kept until 1983 and then there were only 344,000 cell phone subscribers in the US. Today 355.2 million computers were sold globally and there are 6 billion cell phone users worldwide.
I grew up overseas and lived on a military base and our choices were basically two. This shampoo or that shampoo. This soap or that soap. There wasn’t much reason for overwhelm, confusion or meltdown when standing in the shopping isle. Today, when a person goes online to do his/her due diligence in their pre-buying ritual their are 1,000,000,000 pages of choice and thousands of likes, overlay that with all of their friends opinions and tweets about a product and you have a person in a state of frozen immobility unable to make any decision. If you have gone to a mall lately have you noticed how many vendors there are who are selling cell phone cases to bling out your phone!?!
We want to be in touch at every moment of every day; to what end? We have the most disconnect, worse relationships in history and we are more connected than ever before. Something isn’t right here. What is that? We should be closer, not further apart.
I know several 20 somethings and several 30 somethings who have wised up and decided to exit social media, because they see it as a life drainer not a life enhancer. Yes, the like to know what’s going on with their friends but, not every moment of every day.
They have become wise at a much younger age in realizing that relationships are built in person face to face not over the Internet. They know that time spent in front of a computer screen or holding a device in not as rewarding or fulfilling as holding the person who they hold dear. It really isn’t anyone’s business to know what you and your family is doing every minute of the day. If you are putting everything your children are doing out there for the world to see, you might want to think twice about that.
We watch and worry over things we have no control over. The world didn’t suddenly become more violent, or more active weather wise. We became more. As I watched a report on the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, the weather channel showed two images. One image showed the same area 10 years ago with no population and towns in place and a second image today where a tornado had ripped through that same area now populated with businesses and homes.
We are also equipped with phones which have cameras and we are documenting everything and sometimes at our own peril. It has always been happening, we just haven’t been there to see and document it and now we are. Frankly, hearing the sounds of screaming children huddled in a school bathroom with a tornado raging all around them does not edify me or constitute great news converge. Showing and listening to the suffering of others does not evoke the reaction needed for ratings being first on the scene, but rather sensationalism. Yes, we need to know, but not to see it over and over and over again. This is not healthy to the human mind and heart.
Do you and I want to know everything that’s going on every where? The simple answer is: NO. And I don’t think we need to either. I challenge you to go for a full week and not watch, listen or go on your computer or check your alerts for news (unless it is your job or you live in an area where you are apt to have a tornado or flood or hurricane) and see how you life feels differently. I hear it all the time, “I need to know what the weather will be.” Okay, look out the window, open the door and judge for yourself. And I would also imagine that when you do go back to watching and listening…..the same stuff is still going on and it will seem as if you didn’t miss even one day.
Here’s another fact that you may know in your subconscious but I would like for you to put a stickie note on your computer screen: if you are a person who thinks reading email is the most important thing your must do, think again.
Email is someone else agenda. Did you get that: Email is someone else agenda. This is the biggest time waster in your day. Your lack of productivity can be directly tied to email. Open email twice a day: mid-morning and late afternoon. Work in large chunks of time so you are more productive. You train people how to work with you and how to respect you and your time. If you have trained them that you are available for an immediate response then that is what they will expect from you everyday, 24 – 7 – 365. Set your boundaries. In your email signature let the person getting the email when they can expect a response, use the out of office greeting, there are things to help you. Use the tools which are set up to help you.
If you feel over communicated with and over burdened, make a clean break. Yes, it will be hard. Yes, you will take some hits. What will you lose? You will lose only the stuff that drains the very life out of you. What will you gain in return? Your LIFE! You will gain all those things that you VALUE!
If we have no hope in stopping this out of control wild beast, then we must learn how to control ourselves in the use of it to enhance our lives, to run and work in our businesses and not be a slave to its ever present presence.