As we usher into the new year, one thought keeps haunting me – how many hours are we spending in front of a screen, be it our smart-phone, tablets, laptop, desktop or TV? Gone are the simple joys of life – reading a book quietly, taking a walk without any distractions, or just being quiet.
The average American spends at least eight and a half hours a day in front of a screen, Nicholas Carr notes in his eye-opening book “The Shallows,” in part because the number of hours American adults spent online doubled between 2005 and 2009 (and the number of hours spent in front of a TV screen, often simultaneously, is also steadily increasing). Even more scary - The average American teenager sends or receives 75 text messages a day, though one girl in Sacramento managed to handle an average of 10,000 every 24 hours for a month.
Few years back, at a conference, the interviewer asked Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google, “what is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning”? Pat came the reply – “check email”. What was considered cool few years back – “Always On”, seems like a real burden now. The constant barrage of emails, Tweets, Facebook, SMS, does not leave us any time to be quiet with ourselves.
I have been saying for years, “we are drowning in information, but starving for knowledge”. Above that is Wisdom and you might as well forget that one. So it is like a pyramid and at the bottom is the flood of information we are bombarded with. Filtering essential nuggets of knowledge is a monumental task. No wonder the emphasis is on business intelligence and meaningful analytics to make the information useful. Wisdom is above that which becomes our guiding light in life.
In a recent thought-provoking article in New York Times, the well known author Pico Iyer said, “In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time. The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight.”
I have always used the adage – “ease of use equals ease of abuse“. The perfect example currently is the overuse or abuse of Facebook. Over-communication of trivia is happening in the name of social networking. Even in offices, productivity is affected negatively by such distractions of constant email, tweets, etc.
As Pico Iyer says, we need to get back to allocating quiet time to ourselves – set aside a chunk of hours every week with no interruptions. He comically mentions resort hotels charging a premium for rooms with no TV, no Internet, and no phones. People are willing to pay for being away from all these distractions.
I recommend highly to do meditation every day for 30 minutes, preferably in the early morning. Yoga is another option also.
The new B2B is Back to Basics.