As the world starts to pull up itself from the shadows of an ongoing pandemic and tries to grapple with the severe economic melt down which has come along with it (no the virus didn’t cause the economic meltdown; how we dealt with it, caused it!). As humanity we are flirting dangerously with a strange alteration in human behavior for the first time in over hundred years- this new changed behaviour- of being connected with the world through gadgets and not people! This article tries to explore the aspects evolving around it and what perhaps may eventually manifest from this new trait! So let’s explore and get our grey matter working!
Even before the pandemic broke loose, we have been living in an era where we have had technology uncomfortably in-your-face kind of scenarios and with the latest slew of people tracking applications required- few optional and few mandatory, our connection with the digital- virtual world has got far more creepier than you think!As individuals more and more of us wait for an opportunity to get online- whether it is to check the weather, the status of the pandemic, the latest update on the neighborhood or just to know if people still like you over your social media handles! The reasons can be many, few valid and few as dumb as they can be! Any aspect of technology and online driven compulsiveness may be essential for one individual and the same can be an absolute disaster for another, it all depends on- who these individuals are! Say if you are a successful artist and want to stay connected with your follower base through some short videos or pics, it certainly works and perhaps works pretty well to uplift morale of your followers- if you carry that kind of an infectious and inspiring persona, but what about if you are that odd one who has been struggling and these times have made your struggle that bit more spicier! Well, for an individual who is already at logger heads with time and space an overwhelming experience over the virtual world can be really dangerous and make a person withdraw or become over-expressive in ways which may not help, especially during these times, when the vital people connect is, all but missing!
Add to this the latest fallout of the lockdowns the world over- organisations and business have been quick to announce policies and measures asking people to work form home! Now what this has ended up doing in majority of the cases, is create an even more challenging work space for individuals! (unless you own a 5 room apartments- where perhaps two rooms can be occupied by the working members of the house, one by the kids and one by the pet that you have, not to forget even the kitchen is held hostage either by your maid or your in-laws or parents as the case may be!) You see, as long as people went to their offices to create value or destroy the existing value at their work place- all that got played out away from the watchful eyes and ears of your spouses, parents, in-laws, kids and pets. Now that people are working form home, or anywhere that they are (but not at workplace) people around – family and friends- get a first row seat to individual personalities and complexities like never before! All that verbal abuse, emotional tantrums, abrupt meetings, calls being cut, truncated, work that never seems to end, a lunch break that never seems to happen and a weird situation which just stays to hang on- like forever! Earlier even if you had a bad day at work- people would dissipate much of that negative energy by the time they finished their commute and reached their residences- now when all that negativity has lad home in your residence- needless to say there will be unwanted reactions and behavioral patterns erupting with closed confines of your home as well! Add to this that extra element of not being able to talk to reach out to your colleague at office for guidance and counsel- like it used to normally happen- a short break- a cup of tea or coffee on the way back or that 45 min quick beer to plan for the next day to counter what would have unfolded this day- you just end up getting stuck and consumed with your work- with no real cut off in the real sense of it!
Sure enough, office video calls, con-calls, emails and all of them work and work pretty well, but think about it, these tools have been there for such a long time- if these were indeed really that effective- why do you think any major corporations or a business house would have spent millions and millions of dollars to create reputed and state of the art workplaces? There would be some reason right? Well think around that bit when you have time! The fact is remains that, humans always knew the relevance and importance of having place of work and place of residence as two separate locations and it was perhaps a wiser thing to do- ask any innovator or a scientist- they will tell you, many a great things and moments in their lives which proved to be a breakthrough movement either happened at their designated workplace, designated home, or during commute , but never while doing WFH (work from home!) – it never really works!
Importantly if you thought only working professionals are facing challenges, think about it, even kids who are studying at school or colleges are facing and even more crueler scenario! The most badly hit, if you ask me are the school going kids, the youngest of them under 10 years- they have been disconnected from other kids at a vital time of their life when they are supposed to forge, foster and develop the social skills that are an essence of being a human and vital for social engagements and development of the society as these kids become grown ups in the next two decades! But if they have a weak foundation for social engagement set up right now, the ramifications in the long term will never be the ones’ that we desire! You may ask me, but this is just for a year or a few months, how can it impact? well think about it, experts have said, it takes about 21 days for a habit to cultivate and about 10,000 hours to master something that you wish to excel at! So either ways choose your metric and if your kids have been exposed to any of these, rest assured the new emerging behavior of your kids will be not what they had earlier charted the course for! They will unwittingly end up embracing the death hug of technology over the vital compassionate hug of humanity which comes only by being connected with people! We may end up cultivating societal failures and in the next two decades form now , many failures of social engineering/engagement will get attributed to this generation which did not build the vital foundation of social engagement with fellow humans- intentionally or unintentionally! So is there something that we can do about it? Well the answer is yes and no! Yes we can, that’s what makes us, humans special, and No- if the capitalist greed of the top 1% of the world doesn’t stop doing from what it is currently doing; Globally societies will end up driving their young generations into a space where they may just end up being the human extension of technology! We may end up in a space where we don’t lead technology and set the pace for the future, rather get pulled and pushed all over the pace as technology decides how it wants to use/abuse or not use our human services for its propagation! Let’s leave out those 1% and see what we can do within what’s possible at our own individual levels to ensure that we stay connected the way humans should!
Create rituals! Yes, organised rituals at your work desk as you start to crunch you day- and make people to people- non-work talk an essential aspect of this space! Make it a point to use the famed 80:20 principle when you connect with other people- let this 20% of time be used to have that human conversation which revolves around shared values and aspects that go to define and uplift human life! It could be as simple as , “How’s everyone at home?”, to something like “How’s your novel writing coming up?” or perhaps “How’s your thesis going?”, it could be about good times, planing small get- together (law permitting in your space and city), anything but work! Next, make space for those corporate and work life related – bitching calls- no matter whether you are good or bad at the job that you do- you will be a part of this- either creating and leading it or at the receiving end- as long as these remain harmless and don’t impact the sanctity of the work values and ethics, things will be fun and needed to vent out your frustrations where they need to be done! There’s no point breaking crockery at home because you had a bad day- you just end up adding to your won expenses and unwanted next set of complications dealing with people at home! Make an effort and time your exit from the day’s work- this is easier said than done! But, unless you don’t put your foot down, things will not change, remember- the organisation pays you as per the contract that you have signed up for- anything extra that you do- is the loss of the seconds of your life and a windfall gain day-in and day-out for the organization! It’s kind of you work for 40 days of the months and get paid for 30! Limit your screen times to what is vital and essential, stay away from the screens unless you are going to end up someone getting killed! Stop that unwanted urge to keep checking and re-checking that like, comment or views on our social pages and presence, the fact is, trust me it doesn’t matter, unless you are in that fabled 1%!
When it comes to kids, sure enough quite challenging to ask other parents to send in their kids for play dates and all that (depends on IQ levels of the parents largely)! So if you have young kids around in your family or extended family take a few minutes off each day- talk to them and explain to them what’s happening and keep up that conversation and curiosity up and running, for heaven’s sake don’t let a search engine be the answer to all the questions that their inquisitive minds have and if you do this right, they will emerge the other side of this storm – still curious, young, inquisitive and full of life and courage! This us what we need as humanity more than anything else- A resilient younger generation which has been formed and forged by a severe storm, which has not been dented or broken but rather become stronger and even more sharper, the way the things have unfolded around them!
Think again, when you have that compelling urge to stay glued to your gadgets! If you are still reading this, well it’s about time you complete the next few sentences and race back to your family/friends for that quick chat and re-discover the joy of being connected with humanity!
I leave your here, urging you to reflect and decide for yourself, the balance that you wish to cultivate with the gadgets that you command and the people that you cherish!
Ciao for now, will be back with another article soon! Until then stay wise and stay safe!