A steady diet of nothing

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I am reading one of Evgeny Morozov’s books, The Net Delusion, How Not to Save the World. He certainly gets you thinking about how we submerge ourselves in all of our electronic gizmos – and the effects it has, not just for democracy, freedom and society as a whole, but also for each one of us as an individual.

The book also got me thinking about apects, such as how breaks during work in the team have changed. When there is a lull in conversation, it is easily filled by glancing at you phone – just checking, mind you. Or you cut out the conversation from the get-go, spending the break staring at five inches of brightly-lit liquid crystal. Do not get me wrong, I am not moralising here, I am as much guilty of this as anyone else –well, apart from that one person on the team with the quaint push-button phone. Like, really?! What are you going to use that for? As a phone?!

But in all seriousness, in my observation this compulsive use of our electronica leads to a paradox situation: in virtual space everybody is constantly communicating – while at the same time in a shared, physical space nobody is communicating. Slide to unlock? More like look up and start talking! And no, I  really do not want to talk about the video you have just watched on YouTube of a cat flushing a toilet.

I am not being a Luddite or a grumpy old git here. I am absolutely clear in my mind, that a lot of this stuff is fantastic and indeed offers many benefits… such as allowing me to write and share ideas in a blog, to name but one.

Yet in tight-knit teams, such as they often are in tree care, communication is essential. We neglect this fact at our peril, as it can easily lead to strained tempers, misunderstandings, miscommunication, which in turn can be the start of a chain of events that can potentially lead to serious situations.

Do I have any idea how to address this matter?

Nothing very concrete, but I am wondering whether it might be an option to say that we spend part of a break with all e-paraphernalia left to one side, allocating that time to discussion and interaction, and then allowing a certain amount of time for updating whatever needs to be updated, checked or replied to.

I am aware that in some work environments, teams can be pretty heterogenous and people may not have much to say to each other. That is another matter (and poses other problems), yet the instances I am thinking of, this is not the root of the issue. The more pertinent reasons would seem to me to be thoughtlessness, convenience and habit. The shocking thing is that it is such an easy pattern to fall into… so why not try to create spaces in which you consciously, as a group, take a step back from this fast-twitch, instant-availably mind set – and get stuck into some face to face communication that lasts beyond the next alert from Facebook or SMS-ping!