I went to the birthday party of a dear friend last night. It was such an interesting evening on many fronts. One was the unseen impact of the technologies we employ.
I have frankly been baffled by all the “social networking” tools that people use. Facebook, twitter, linkedin and there are dozens more. Businesses now use facebook regularly. Last night I was able to talk to friends who are using these technologies. I still don’t understand them, but I do see how they become useful in business. I see how people are using them to promote their business and/or themselves as expert, or useful, or having good information.
There are two things that struck me about all this. One is how much time they take, and two is how fractured they make the day – and life.
Do we really want to work everywhere?
I was told how twittering and Facebook can in fact save time because they are so “efficient” at getting the word out, how twits are more effective as press releases because they are read whereas press releases are not. What wasn’t said was the 60 – 80 hours these guys work each week, how you have to follow multiple facebook and twitter accounts as well as being active in these forums yourself so you maintain your “utility” in the work world.
And nothing was said of how the multi-tasking these tools demand make you bing from thing to thing, unable to concentrate or truly give things of import their just due. This, I am afraid, is simply accepted, not even thought about or even recognized anymore today.
It takes me back to David Whyte who wrote two tremendous books on work even before all these technologies. (The books are Crossing the Unknown Sea and The Heart Aroused.) He talks about the “busyness” in today’s work world, how everyone is super busy and takes it as a badge of pride that they are. He relates the story of his running around busily going faster and faster doing more and more. One day he stuck his head into a meeting and asked if anyone had seen David. The group stared at him a second and burst into laughter, for he was the only David working there. He said that question hit him because it was a question that revealed his life – he was looking for himself, lost in all the busyness of his daily activities.
This is life today. We are so busy doing, we have forgotten what it is to be, to live – really live. We are so wrapped up in the importance of our work lives, we have so let work control and dominate us that we aren’t living life, we are working life.
It is very difficult to see and understand this when you are in the midst of a frenetic, frantic, fractured life. It takes the sudden revelation, like David Whyte asking for himself, to bring us up short. And even then, where do we find the strength and courage to say no, to get off the treadmill, to begin to live life? It is particularly hard in a recession and when we all have fears of being cast out on the street.
When did you last take in a view like this without a frantic mind?
There is no easy answer. I do know this: One of the things we hope for people to get our of our trips is to live, to get in touch with their deeper life, to feel what in life has import besides work. Italy is ideal for this because Italians live life better than most, reveling in the simple pleasures life offers, which cost little money yet yield such richness. We hope people taste it and return with an eye to bringing some of that richness home with them.
Last night was also revealing because of our conversation about today’s young people. But that is another story!
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