In a world where immediate satisfaction is almost faster than the speed of light and privacy is a joke from a 1990s comedy, are our lives better with technology and social media? Or better yet, do you really think what you think? Or is it a product of what you are consuming?
Whenever another headline is published announcing a data leak, bulk password breach, or digital ownership rights, I always wonder if we are really using technology to the best of its ability. Don’t get me wrong, I am not about to advocate for banning smart phones and/or the internet. Rather, I want to discuss how we can use these powerful tools to further enhance our lives in a positive way.
Take for instance the film and book The Circle. I will admit I have only seen the movie, props to Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. That story is set in the not so distance future where your entire existence is attached to a cloud server for everyone to interact with. One of the messages the characters were debating was whether transparency is true democracy or just creepy. I feel that depends on what the information is being used for. Scrolling through someone’s feed cannot substitute active communication with the person when you are trying to get to know them. Neither is scrolling through meme’s and videos for hours at a time the most productive use of your time. So, how do we improve this?
Social media is a great tool to reach more people and ideas then you would without it. Take it as an introduction to the person or idea. As you consume information about people, events, culture, and news, take the time to develop what you think about what you are seeing. How do you feel after watching that clip? What do you already know about that topic? If you were having a discussion with that person or about that topic, what would you contribute? Make an effort to look beyond the sound bites and the viral comments.
Privacy and social media is also an interesting balance. The way things are going, it seems like we only have two choices: one, make every effort possible to remain off the grid by living in an underground laboratory, or, two, accept that every aspect of your life is accessible for entertainment and capitalism purposes. Not much of a balance, is it? I remember there was a time when my friends and I would freak out if we searched for our name on Google and there was one search result that showed some obscure web page from a newspaper or school post. Now, it is common for private information that the Yellow Pages never listed to be accessible with a click or small subscription. Is that a big deal? If we are not all members of a secret ninja society, should we care if this information is floating around? I still find it concerning.
What does this mean for networking and opportunities? Even if you do choose to make your social media accounts private or under alternative names, does the overload of private information help or hinder your prospects? Does it create more biases or openness? Ideally, it should give us space to be more inclusive. If you are building a team you want to be proud of, it could make sense to know what everyone’s opinions, struggles, passions, and dreams are to better understand how everyone will grow within what you are building. To better understand how to push it forward.
Ok, let’s get back to using social media as a positive tool. I love that Twitter now has a bookmark feature. It is better than messaging myself links to things I want to take the time to indulge in later. One of things I finally got a chance to see is Alex Wolf’s mini-documentary “Attention for Sale.” As she spoke about how advertising and technology continues to influence our attention span, rapid clips of various pop culture history flashed across the screen. I find it fascinating to take note of how social media continues to influence human and consumer behavior, which Alex did a wonderful job breaking down. If you have not seen it yet, you should definitely check it out. I love how she concluded with, “we are people of the heart living in a world made for the eyes.”
Do you notice how normal it has become to have everyone and everything pushing for your attention? How difficult it is to decipher between distractions? How naked and anxious you feel when you forget or lose your phone? This goes back to paying attention to how you feel. Maintain the autonomy of your opinions and emotions.
Now, time management. Why does it feel like we have less time in a day? That is because a lot of our time is unaccounted for. Can you honestly pinpoint what you did with your time in the hour before you started reading this post? What about this morning? What about yesterday between 2:15pm and 3:21pm? What about last week? When I hear people complain about time or ask for advice on how to better manage their time, I always respond asking them what is their relationship with time. Most would say they feel time slipping from them or imposing restraints on them.
When it comes to your relationship with time, I feel it is better to view it as something you flow with. As in, you are in control of what you choose to do. The timing of how things happen is what you need to trust. If you choose to use your time sitting instead of running, can you really say time is slipping from you? If everyone is supposed to focus on the speed of their race in their lane, what determines when you choose to sit and when you choose to sprint?
Among other things, technology can be part of it. Maybe you are comparing your chapter 3 to someone else’s chapter 34 on social media. Maybe binge watching certain shows encourages you to remain in your comfort zone. Maybe playing certain video games takes your mind off of boredom or loneliness. Maybe swiping through profiles tricks you into feeling you are making progress. Maybe participating in trolling debates convinces you that you think for yourself. How are you holding yourself accountable?
I feel the key is to stay grounded. Get clear on what you want to accomplish and where you want to go. Keep an open mind as you explore new perspectives and connect to new people. Direct your time. Feel free to use some of your time to rest, to sprint, to delegate, to give, to receive, and anything else you might need. Technology is not the enemy. It really should be the tool that pushes our evolution further and enhances our reality.
So, what is your relationship with technology and social media? How is it enhancing or hindering your time management and overall lifestyle? I would love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments.