By a show of hands, how many of you can remember silently cursing when you had to call that one friend who had all the 9s and 0s in his number? This was technology back then. There were no saved contacts on that thing, but when you dialed 0, a beautiful human voice answered the line, and she sounded kind of like your grandmother.
Hi, my name is Niki Rudolph, and I bought my first cell phone in 2004. Now, I have an iPhone, an iPod, an iPad, a MacBook, a Kindle, and 2 PC laptops at home. I have an odd romance with Google Doc, consider Evernote a dear friend, and maintain relationships with my nieces through Snapchat. I love technology.
Because technology can be the ultimate connector. My grandfather, decided to join Facebook at age 87, not because he felt peer pressure in his retirement community, but because he saw how his 17 grandchildren were able to remain connected despite our serious geographic separation
You can connect with other professionals on a conference backchannel, collaborate through Google Docs, and find new music with Pandora. You can discover the 10 things leaders do before breakfast, read about the 20 things to do in your 20s, learn what kind of eyebrow shape you should have for your face, and most importantly…
Learn what kind of Muppet you are. For all the Buzzfeed quizzes, the tweets, the facebooking, the instagramming, the googling, and other gratuitiousverbing of nouns, technology is changing our brains. Nicholas Carr explained that “we are evolving from being cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest.”
Authors like Carr, and Powers, and Turkle have been examining how technology is changing our relationship with ourselves and with others. Powers highlighted that “we’re losing something of great value, a way of thinking and moving through time that can be summed up in a single word: depth.”
Instead of being the scuba diver exploring and discovering what’s down below, we are on a jet ski, just skimming the surface. When I read a book, I get lost in the story, but when I’m surfing online, three clicks on hyperlinks, and I can’t even remember the original article.
Rey Juncoexamined in-class multitasking and learned that Facebook and texting during class related to lower semester GPAs. Jordan Grafman, who studies cognitive neuroscience, saw that constant shifting of attention can make a brain more nimble, but multitasking “hampers our ability to think deeply and creatively.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to lose my ability to innovate. I don’t want to lose my A-ha moments. Powers, in his book, Hamlet’s Blackberry, refers to several philosophers from centuries past to help us see our way out of the technology maze. I’d like to offer the philosophers in my own life.
This was Teri’s advice the first time my salt sisters and I sat down to dinner. We had known each other online for some time, but this dinner was where we laughed harder than I ever have, learned more about each other, and made friends with the neighboring tables who wanted to be part of our group.
Does your social network look like a local pub or more like the yellow pages from every city you’ve lived in? Be thoughtful. Connect with a purpose. Rather than focusing on how many people you know, concentrate on how well you know those people.
Karl Gude is the former director of infographics at Newsweek, and now a Journalism faculty at Michigan State. He has validate for me the urge I have to draw out my thoughts. My notes from meetings have random and thoughtful doodles all around the margins. Visually connecting your thoughts and ideas is a great way to focus.
Whether they are doodles on an agenda or a craft project outside of work, allow creativity into your thoughts. Some of my greatest ideas about the work that I do come while I have a dog on my lap and I’m knitting.
In my residential college, I have an art gallery just down the hall from my office. Sometimes, when I am stuck on a project, I walk down the hall and wander through the latest exhibit. It gets my blood flowing, and get my mind moving in a different direction.
Instead of emailing a colleague, walk to their office to discuss the message. Walk around your building. Go get a cup of coffee. Walk with no purpose. Just get yourself moving to allow you brain to make connections among ideas that were previous just sitting there.
My girls have taught me a lot, but the biggest piece is not to take myself so seriously. Yes, what we do matters, and unfortunately, sometimes our work can deal with life and death. But most of the time, we are not so important the we need to step out of that meeting to take a call or answer that email right this second.
I bet sometime today, you asked someone how they were doing, and they replied, “Ah, really busy.” Truthfully, we make our own busy. Follow Ed Cabellon’s suggestion and turn off the email pop-up alerts. Turn off the text alert tone. And when someone asks how you are doing, think of something more creative than busy, like “Excited to do what I love and get free food at events once in a while.”
My father own a little cabin on 120 acres up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and when we were kids, the one thing he demanded is that we were quiet in the woods. I know what a partridge taking off sounds like. I’ve had a baby mink walk across the toe of my boot. All because I learned to be quiet.
Powers suggests, “Choose one idea a day to think about more deeply. Train the mind to tune out the chaos.” When I am driving and caught behind an incredibly slow vehicle or train, I consider it fate’s way of telling me there is something I am supposed to think on.
Be present. Be creative. Wander. Laugh. Allow yourself to be quiet. The Roman philosopher Seneca said, “To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” And if you don’t listen to me, at least listen to Mr. Rogers. Thank you.
It comes down to this:
We’re all busier.
Much, much busier.
It’s a lot of work managing
all this connectedness.
“Deep and simple is far more
essential than shallow and complex.”