Epilogue: Back to the Future

Twelve weeks ago I wrote my first blog post ever.  It was for this class, accurately titled “Digitalasourus Rex.”  Twelve weeks later I sit to write this post, still accurately self-described as a digital dinosaur.  But, with some of the tools that I’ve sharpened and lessons that I have learned in Professor Kane’s class, I may just survive the extinction.  Here’s why – 3 lessons:

It’s all over!!!

Digital Footprint is a Thing:

In the new digital economic ecosystem, your digital integrity is a trait that has meaning.  At some point in the not too distant future the value of your digital integrity, and the trust that it instills, may outweigh your reputation in the physical world.  This is especially true with the growth of the share economy (Uber, AirBnB, etc.), and is amplified by the gig work environment that is being accelerated by AI and Machine Learning.  I think about how this will impact the recruiting and hiring process of the future; are resume’s and the network provided by elite higher educational institutions going become second to LinkedIn and the cumulative digital score generated by your earned digital trust?  Will FICO score matter less than your Uber rating?  Will SAT scores be replaced by leadership rating in Fortnite?  Jokes aside, the digital footprint that we all leave is a thing that we need to be mindful of and actively manage.

Twitter Matters: 

As a self-diagnosed Twitteraphobe, I have spent the last 30 years avoiding Twitter altogether.  Well, at least the last thirteen years since its founding in 2006.  This was a mistake.  My fear of there being an unfiltered stream of consciousness between me and the outside world has effectively been quelled by learning of the seemingly endless access to information, articles, [educated] opinions, and data that Twitter affords. Throughout the semester we discussed the flip side of that access; the side that I feared.  Twitter can also be an intensely powerful tool for harm and destruction, both towards others and self-destruction.  But, the interconnectivity that the platform has yielded has shaped, and will continue to shape, the business and digital information landscape.  Twitter proficiency is table stakes for leaders. 

Digital Decompression:

I recently travelled to Istanbul for my college roommate’s bachelor party (yes, Istanbul for a bachelor party… yes, Istanbul has incredible history and architecture …yes, I felt safe the entire time …yes I went to a Turkish Bath …yes it was awesome). During dinner each night we played what we call “cell tower”; we set our cell phones to silent and stacked all of them in the middle of the table, if anyone reaches for their phone before dessert is served that person pays the bill.  It is astonishing how anxiety-inducing, yet paradoxically liberating, it is to not have your phone attached to your person.  You begin to actually engage with those around you. You begin to pay genuine attention to the stories being told.  You begin to ponder about interesting and random thoughts that have nothing to do with whether that crush of yours liked your most recent IG post or viewed your story. While social media has given us, all of us, the ability to touch one another regardless of distance or socioeconomic status, it has also created a digital dependency.  Take breaks from social media.  Take breaks from the digital environments. This balance, my friends, is important.  

While the digital world is omnipresent and forever growing, do not forget to take the time to be human with other humans in this human world every now again.  Thank you all for making me more digitally relevant.  It is appreciated.

With Love,

@thekidbeats

2 comments

  1. I love the idea of the ‘cell tower’. It forces everyone to be engaged with the group or face the penalties of a huge bill. But I also really liked that each of your three ‘lessons learned’ revolve around having a digital balance. Having a digital footprint is important (would you trust someone who had no online presence whatsoever?) but it’s also important to curate and manage your digital footprint because it really is a representation of yourself. Twitter matters, but like anything else, it can be abused and should be taken in moderation. Digital mediums provide worlds of benefit across every industry, but it’s almost important to unplug every once in a while and remember that there’s a life outside the digital realm.

    It was great having you as a classmate this year, wish you the best!

  2. Great post! I think the point you mentioned about twitter having the potential to be both incredible and destructive is a microcosm of the larger technological environment. A lot of wicked powerful technologies exist, and could potentially be used for good or for evil. It’s entirely up to the individual or the corporation to determine how some of these will be used, which ultimately determines whether it’s detrimental or beneficial. Also completely agree with what you said about taking a break from your phone. Last spring I lived on a sailboat for six weeks in New Zealand, and the longest stretch in which I didn’t use my phone was a little over two weeks. It was after the 8th day or so that I realized I hadn’t touched my phone or laptop in over a week. It was way easier to disconnect than I thought it would be, and overall it was delightfully freeing, albeit somewhat anxiety-inducing.

    Anyways, I really enjoyed all your contributions to the class throughout the semester (especially your presentation–one of my favorites)!

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