Connectivity kickback, the dangers of being too plugged in

February 15, 2010

NEW YORK, Feb.15, 2010/Troy Media/ – Job market credibility and career-positioning are tied to how well connected you are. Call it your “connectivity quotient.”

A high connectivity quotient – above 90 per cent – means you’re a very desirable, fast-track, cutting  – make that bleeding – edge kind of person who goes out of his way to be armed with the newest and finest connectivity gadgets. It demonstrates that you understand their importance and are willing to buy the best – and they can get pretty pricey – and are willing to put in the hours learning how to use them.

In turn, companies acknowledge the importance of having their top people and rising stars connected. Their mobile stars are provided with cell phones, tiny notebook computers and Blackberries.

Mobile superstars are connected 24/7

In a frenetic global business climate, companies are all about building their outsourcing relationships, extending their corporate tentacles to the furthest crevices on the planet. To achieve that, it means running around the clock, 365 days a year. They aren’t joking either.

Project managers who specialize in international outsourcing complain about the stresses and tensions of being on call around the clock and the downsides of coping with changing time zones. It interrupts their lives, not to mention their sleep, and increases the likelihood of premature burnout.

While everyone extols the joys of total connectivity, no one talks about its darker sides and the problems it can trigger.

In 2002, MIT professor Alan Lightman packed a house when he gave a lecture about the dangers of technology. The title of his lecture was The World is Too Much With Me: Finding Private Space in a Wired World.

Lightman, a respected physicist and novelist, talked about how the obsession with the speed of technology contributes to the loss of silence and inner reflection, as well as to a lack of privacy. His goal was not to downplay or minimize technology’s importance, but rather to point out the importance of unplugging to “consider what is really important in life.”

“We’re not able to spend time in our inner lives, which is where we think about our morals and our values,” Lightman said.

Former high-level programmer and IT headhunter Mick Quinn says that there are clear dangers in being connectivity-dependent. He speaks from personal experience. His frenetic lifestyle was one the reasons he sought spiritual refuge in Buddhism and authored Power and Grace, The Wisdom of Awakening.

“Many people actually feel very lonely – even abandoned — if their cell phone or inbox is not full to the brim with calls, messages or texts,” Quinn says.  “And the result is many people are forming relationships that are very shallow, just to keep some activity going to bolster their self-worth.”

Too much connectivity can trivialize relationships, Quinn adds. “Being able to reach someone so directly means that we now have to prioritize our relationships, screen calls and block numbers. We can also cancel in the last minute since we know we can reach someone like this.”

Consider temporary disconnect

What do you think? Lightman and Quinn have made some good points worth thinking about. I’m not suggesting we power down and turn off our PCs, cell phones or Blackberries.

Consider unplugging yourself for a couple of hours. If that’s too painful, try one hour and then work yourself up to an hour. If the silence is unbearable and makes you very anxious, seriously consider altering your lifestyle.

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