Cell phones. Tablets. Laptops. The list is ever-growing and ever-changing. All these devices are designed to makes our lives easier. To streamline our work. To give us more time. The trouble is they don’t.
Remember the books and articles that predicted computers that would be so efficient, they would liberate us from the shackles of an eight-hour work day? Give us a completely paperless society? They would enable us to accomplish more in less time, leaving us free to pursue leisure activities like never before. Computers were going to set us free.
So what happened? The computers materialized as predicted. They enabled us to accomplish our tasks faster. They streamlined our work. So where is the abundant free time?
- Instead of using our “extra’ time to pursue enjoyable activities and hobbies, we use it to get even more work done. The theory is if we can do a job in half the time, then we can accomplish twice as much as before.
- Doing our work more efficiently means, to most corporations, that fewer employees are required to do the same amount of work. So we all now do our own jobs and the jobs of the employees who have been downsized/rightsized/out-the-door-sized.
- The devices themselves are an insidious time drain, alluring in their designs, attractive in their promises of time-saving and entertainment. We are enchanted and then mesmerized. They hold a thrall over us that we cannot break. We compulsively check them. We pour more information into them. We get caught up in the web (slight pun intended) of communication and information. We don’t own them. They own us.
- The upkeep and maintenance of the devices is no small chore, either. Add it to the list of another damn thing to do.
The plus side is that we do communicate like never before. News spreads quickly. Response time is lightning fast. Organization and mobilization can happen like never before. (Remember SOPA?)
Unfortunately, we have to communicate quickly. No more complete sentences. No more fully spelled words. Who has the time to either write them or read them?