As we’ve noted, the allure of being a Digital Pharaoh through the Internet of Things (IoT) is strong. IoT is a genie in a bottle. It offers control in the midst of chaos. People now have the expectation of whatever, whenever, however — life on demand. In other words, the Internet of Things further enables “living-in-the-web.” As a tech-lover, I’m the first to champion the virtues of technology. However, as Andrew Sullivan, the coiner of “living-in-the-web,” illustrates in a recent article, there are many downsides to this always-on life. Lost time, damaged relationships, decreased productivity, limited attention spans & health issues just to name a few.
In this modern age of instant gratification, entertainment on demand and social networking, it should not surprise us that many people expect all aspects of our lives to be under our control. And yet, many would argue that it’s increasingly harder to restore order. The Internet and social media have made it easier and easier to get lost down a rabbit hole. And now smartphones and tablets have made the rabbit hole portable, tempting us to get lost in it anywhere, at any time, no matter what else we might or should be doing. “Information soon penetrated every waking moment of our lives.”
In his article “I Used to Be a Human Being,” Sullivan makes a powerful argument for unplugging, enjoying life and appreciating silence. Interestingly, he explains today’s cultural climate with a history lesson:
In his survey of how the modern West lost widespread religious practice, A Secular Age, the philosopher Charles Taylor used a term to describe the way we think of our societies. He called it a “social imaginary” — a set of interlocking beliefs and practices that can undermine or subtly marginalize other kinds of belief. We didn’t go from faith to secularism in one fell swoop, he argues. Certain ideas and practices made others not so much false as less vibrant or relevant. And so modernity slowly weakened spirituality, by design and accident, in favor of commerce; it downplayed silence and mere being in favor of noise and constant action. The reason we live in a culture increasingly without faith is not because science has somehow disproved the unprovable, but because the white noise of secularism has removed the very stillness in which it might endure or be reborn.
Sullivan further asserts that “if the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation.” Similarly, one could argue that leaders battle distraction. How much productivity is lost not only directly by wasted time on a device or on social media, but in how well an employee is able to contribute?
Good leaders often speak of ‘work-life’ balance. Perhaps it’s time that leaders also address life balance.