An Intro: A Sure Thing or a Snowballs Chance…

hot snowman GIF

One of the best parts of the digital universe, in my opinion, is the abundance of time. I mean this in a much more figurative sense, but I suppose literally as well. Being digital gives us flexibility, which has a direct correlation with time. Flexibility is great in a busy schedule, email is on your wrist (via apple watch) and it makes no difference is you are working in Tokyo at 2am or from your apartment 2 blocks away from the office. This was most evident for me last year during the height (not to say it’s over or any better) of the Covid pandemic. While being cooped up inside was a drag in the beginning, I quickly found out that I could work 2 jobs and manage a full course load on top of having time on the side. This, as I am now finding out, was only possible being entirely virtual. Add back in social time, commuting, and being able to email or work outside of being on campus and unless you can live on 3 hours of sleep… its game over.  

This is not to say there is no downside to being available 24/7. I learned this last week when I had to jet out of Boston last minute to attend a funeral. Not only did I have to miss the physical aspect of life (like this course) but also, I needed a break from the constant vibrations, chirps, dings, and rings that technology now constantly provides. (Sometimes I swear I can hear the windows chime from my work computer in a dead sleep). I know I am not the only one who struggles from being connected all of the time. It’s now a major source of anxiety for people who grew up on a computer. See Stress and anxiety in the digital age: The dark side of technology.

Memes About Stress | POPSUGAR Smart Living

The point of my brief story and history is that while the digital age is often talked about in conjunction with the interconnectedness of the world. However, it can also be very isolating. The internet is self-fulfilling, if you are really interested in dogs, at the end of three months on twitter you won’t see the posts from NBC News that you follow, but rather the algorithm will serve you liked pictures of dogs doing everything from sleeping to juggling. In a way it seems nice, but sometimes it can feel like you are down a rabbit hole with no way out (except with dog pictures… never enough dog pictures).

What I am really excited to learn from this course, besides the obvious, is how to manage a digitally transformed life. How much is too much and how to take a step back when you need a break. This is what I believe a good manager (but also everyone) should know how to do. And no, I’m not talking about putting a clay face mask on and having wine and popcorn for dinner- a REAL break and detox from all of the junk we encounter being digitally transformed humans.

Relax don't do it😎😂 . #funny #meme - Funny Jokes and Memes | Facebook

So, in short, I am coming in like many others, a native of this digital world but with my candle wick already burned. I lack the tools to pause and meaningfully reflect on my digital presence and my work, constantly bouncing from one screen, tab, computer to the next. I am excited to dive in and immerse myself in this experience hoping to emerge in December better equipped to move forward in an efficient and healthful way. I am here, I am present, and I am ready to be transformed!

6 comments

  1. To me, the most resonating question in your post is “how to take a step back when you need a break”? I often find myself grappling with that. It can’t be that the only way I break free of email, twitter, etc. is to go on a vacation to some place remote. That’s too costly a solution!

    I know Arianna Huffington has offered simple steps like NOT having your phone at your bedside, but rather put it somewhere out of reach. As a parent, it’s even more critical because I feel like I should be modeling good behavior for my future digital citizens. It’s intoxicating to want to embrace the prospect of full-time digital connection, especially with a lot of the positives I find in being connected. But I do think it’s prudent to manage that to be more of a kind 14/6 kind of thing, rather than 24/7.

  2. Karl, as someone who also psychotically swears to hear the windows chime from my work computer in a dead sleep, I’m excited to follow along on your journey of digital detox. I admire your composure amidst your chaotic schedule, and am constantly inspired by your work ethic. (In fact, I’m not so sure I’d be able to also manage working full time in conjunction with full time school if I didn’t have you to commensurate with.) I’m also inspired by your acute insight into managing burnout and your comment about how good managers need to take breaks, and encourage their reports to do the same. I’m literally so excited to learn about your tips and, again, to follow along on your (our?) digital detox.

  3. I really relate to this, especially with my company’s virtual switch with COVID. We sold our office and have been fully remote since the pandemic started. While the remote work was (and still can be) very productive at the start, I have definitely noticed how quickly my entire company’s workload has increased to match the additional bandwidth that remote life offers. And that has directly led to incredible burnout and a lot of very avoidable employee resignations due to the inability to balance work and life demands.

    As the world moves towards a more digitally entangled age, I think the ability to maintain a work life balance will be a “make or break” type scenario for many smaller companies. With positions opening up worldwide due to the ability to employ anyone with a computer nowadays, hiring will be much more competitive in the long run and it will be very hard to justify choosing a company that simply overworks their staff because of the bandwidth that remote work provides.

  4. Digitalization without a doubt leads to an increase in time, whether its time spent processing, communicating or organizing. Like anything, I think moderation and balance is key when embracing the shift to go digital and I think the title of Professor Kane’s book eludes to that. The technology fallacy is that the solution to digital problems and digitization is not always digital. Instead, its up to individuals to make decisions as to how to best leverage technology and solve problems.

    I find stress and anxiety in the digital age to be extremely concerning as technological solutions become more prevalent. I often times see parents shove an iPad or some sort of screen in front of their children to get them to behave or quiet down. While I understand its a fast easy solution, using technology to immediately solve problems leaves these parents in a tough spot when their devices aren’t charged or when their children become dependent on that type of entertainment. Growing up we were never allowed to watch TV during the week but now kids have the power of TV in the palm of their hands! Really makes me wonder what challenges I’ll face as a parent someday and what the best way to address those issues is. A lot to learn here for sure.

  5. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about disconnecting from all electronics (or as I say it, “out of the matrix”) and the internet. You are right, everything is at our finger tips, like smart watches and mobile digital assistance. The endless sounds and bings from our electronic devices can have a negative impact on your mental health. Social media sites often contribute to depression and anxiety if a person does not spend adequate time away from those platforms.

    I also agree with your assessment about management taking progressive steps to offer services and support to employees that need to a break from work and mobile devices. Recently, Nike allowed their employees to take a week of paid time off.

    Also, you’re definitely not the only one who randomly hears a window chime in their sleep. And I think everyone who’s been working from home over the last year and a half can share a similar story.

  6. I feel the same as you do! I was remote the entire first year and took full advantage of it – I ended up traveling a lot during the second semester (after getting vaccinated of course) and was still able to keep up with my classes.

    We however, get so caught up in the resources available to us that it’s difficult to take a step back and slow down. I see technology as a double edge sword – having this much accessibly to the world around is great but I sometimes wonder how things would be if we didn’t have all this technology available to us and how we would have all survived the past year and a half!

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