Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Complexity ...

It doesn't take a genius to realize that the fast paced world we live in has evolved to a  place where the average person finds "keeping up" to be a challenge. Keeping up with texts, emails, FB messages,status updates, tweets and of course...real life interaction with spouses, kids, coworkers and friends.News is reported by the minute on a 24 hr cycle and  there seems to be a societal expectation that we "must" keep pace with this whirling dervish we now call social media. It is as much a time suck as it is a useful tool and you must decide which one it will be for you. Having said all that, the thing that stands out for me the most about social media and the "real time" society we have created is the increasing level of complexity that is the result of this progress. Complexity that exceeds the boundaries of this post to be true. Just know that when you touch one shiny object hanging above your cyber-crib...it moves several more that are connected to the first and so goes the process of communicating and functioning in this brave new world. What some call a new found freedom, others would characterize as digital slavery. Alas, it is always our choice.

Complexity has crept in to our everyday lives almost in a stealthy way. Think back ten years ago and try to recall life without Face book, Twitter, texting and reality shows...well maybe fifteen years back for reality shows...but I relish the thought of a future without scripted spontaneity. What did you do with your time back in the days of the Techno-Luddites? Well, you likely watched more television (old school screen time) and according to my completely unscientific straw poll, the average person read more books and spent more time connecting with the world around them in real life. Now the need to update (minute by minute), connect,link and friend (as a verb) dominates our calendars.These trends have created multiple new dimensions through which human beings now communicate and the thing they all have in common is that they require effort to maintain.Time must be spent to ensure correctness, appropriateness, and timeliness of the messages we use. Then there is the threat of the dreaded hanging "is". It beckons us to bite the digital apple and succumb to a moment of self aggrandizement that can only be described as the modern sin of e-vanity.If we are honest with ourselves we must confess that much of what we push out in to the cyber-universe is shameless self promotion or contrarily, mundane information that neither informs nor interests our target audience. Yet, we still post when we probably should be exercising or reading a book.

It turns out that we have adapted and evolved to accept our new normal. With a price of course but  our society is now built around this new model of ever increasing communication that adds multiple layers of meaning, and of course the resulting complexity I mentioned earlier. It is driven by soft connections and linkages that don't mean as much to us as the time we give away to attain them. In a symbolic but rather meaningless gesture, I once gave away a bag of chips to celebrate my 200 th Face book friend, and somehow I felt obligated to mark the occasion. Odd really, but I guess being unconventional and novel fits with the new normal that is now our reality. The thing that makes this new way of being so challenging is that our 24 hr clock remained the same and I don't see that changing anytime soon. The peace I have made with the hydra is that I have resolved to manage it and not the other way around. Blackberry free days happen more often and I recently took a trip where I left the electronic leash in the car at the airport. Three days un-tethered from the Blackberry was something I had not done in years and I experienced peace, focus, intentionality and a drastically reduced sense of urgency - in Las Vegas!. If ditching the device can make a difference there,it can make a difference anywhere. It reminded me a little bit of, well...1985.


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