Are you a more productive person than, say, 10 years ago?
The question comes in a blog post today by Mark Lewis, president of EMC Corporation, who went “off the grid” recently. Apparently he’s plugged in, again:
… is all of this connectivity actually making us more productive, more innovatiove, or even making our lives that much better? Or is Facebook just the “CB Radio” of the decade (the under 40 set might even have to look that one up, or shall I say, “Google it”?). There is no doubt that staying connected with friends is fun and staying connected with work has become almost required in most organizations, but the question remains, are we any more innovative or productive?
I’ve heard about people who disconnect from the connected universe — if only for a week’s vacation — but I’ve never met any of them, especially in the mirror.
Blame the recession, a University of North Carolina professor says. We’re afraid of being left out or left behind:
“Once people know you’re behaving this way, businesses expect you to be at their beck and call, so vacations become hard,” said Gary Marchionini of UNC Chapel Hill’s school of information and library science.
People stay connected to the office while on vacation partly because they’re expected to, but also because they feel guilty and fear a backlash if they don’t, said Marchionini
We don’t even know if it’s possible to disconnect anymore, though Salon.com’s David Sirota is giving it a try.
Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s that urge to answer your cellphone in the middle of a family dinner, that impulse to check your e-mail before going to bed, knowing your boss expects you to. It’s the urge to text message a business colleague while driving — a problem so prevalent and dangerous that state legislatures are outlawing such behavior. And it’s that reaction you get when telling people you don’t have a Facebook page or a BlackBerry — that disgustedly stunned look as if you said your name is Fred Flintstone. The expectation is that you are — and must be — on the grid at all times.
Technological connectivity is traveling a path previously trampled by human noise.
Utne Reader had a piece a few months ago about the search for places where there is no human sound.
It’s not easy to find silence in the modern world. If a quiet place is one where you can listen for 15 minutes in daylight hours without hearing a human-created sound, there are no quiet places left in Europe. There are none east of the Mississippi River. And in the American West? Maybe 12. One of them is in the temperate rainforest along the Hoh River in Olympic National Park.
Have you tried disconnecting? How’d that work for you? Are you and your spouse on the same page when it comes to “connectivity”? Can you leave work behind and still have a job? Share your stories.