Paradox is the heart of life.
As Louis C.K. describes in his appearance on Conan O’Brien, without intense sadness, there can be no childlike joy. As part of his discussion, he mentions a paradox that I wrestle with constantly. The role of technology in our lives.
Technology is present in every single aspect of my life. I built a career in technology, 90% of my clients work in technology, I live in the hub of technology. Though I no longer work “in” technology, I would have no career without it. I am forever grateful for its accessibility and presence in my life.
And yet, I hate it.
Last year, I reached into my network in a big, bold vulnerable way, asking for help in navigating a breakup. I spent hours thinking about why, exactly, it is so hard to ask for things from the people we have in our lives. I was overwhelmed by the response that I received in asking for help and the depth of connection that resulted from my outreach. I followed through on my promise of making something from what I had learned by developing a workshop and delivering its message to technology companies. Those who met me in my ask or have since attended my workshop, continue to reference the impact on their lives. I have seen this ask spread contagiously. Any yet, while I imagine it’s always been hard to ask for help, I believe it’s harder now than it’s ever been.
Over the weekend, I stumbled on this article by David Byrne, delivered straight to my inbox via Tim Ferris’s 5-bullet Friday. In his writing, David speaks eloquently about the new reality that technology has created in our lives, something I’ve often considered and struggled to find words to describe. Technology is limiting our access to human interactions. The most efficient life calls on us to do things by ourselves, without the need to communicate with or rely on others. If we no longer connect with people for very basic needs - directions, ordering at a restaurant, asking an opinion of a sales clerk at a store - we stop flexing our muscle of connection. We are turning away from the heart of what makes us human. We are a social species.
I am purposely foregoing mention that the internet is making us more connected than ever before. That conversation is nuanced, but the barriers we must cross to engage online are fear lower than what is required to connect with people in person. The stakes are higher with more than written words.
Technology creates an environment to favor efficiency without a pause to consider the larger impact the elimination of connection is having on our lives. Tiny moments of connection, scattered through our day, builds the strength required to connect with others when we most need connection in our lives. I want us to preserve some of those tiny moments.
This week’s wisdom asks you to do one thing without technology in your hand.
Need an idea?
Attend a meeting without your laptop. Walk to the train without earbuds in your ear and your phone in your hand. Say more than 3 words to your barista. Ask someone in your actual neighborhood where they prefer to get lunch.