Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what’s normal.
Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.
In a nutshell
There was no television in my home when I was born in 1953.
Consequently I am in awe of the vast array of technological advances of my lifetime. Many are simply breathtaking.
The only ones I truly value though are those that genuinely enhance the human experience ethically.
Our lives are entangled in the so-called ‘Internet of Things’, the network of connected “things” that we have allowed to invade our lives.
I’m grateful for the convenience that the things bring.
Yet I’m increasingly skeptical of their real value because what I am seeing is more human disconnection, less sense of belonging, and an absence of meaningful and caring communities.
Consider how much of social media is anti-social?
And how much of this new media is really just the old media on steroids? Where would the social media companies be without advertising?
Add to these Reality TV that isn’t real and artificial intelligence that by definition is artificial!
There’s a better way forward.
In August 2018 I undertook a month long experiment of not participating in social or mainstream media because I was seeking more human to human connection.
I faced some significant health challenges at the time and had lost touch with my proven methods for dealing with them. A friend had challenged me with these words “What’s going on mate? You’re obviously not feeling your best self.”
I was grateful for his challenge. On reflection I realised that I become distracted and disillusioned.
I wrote down that I was tired of social media, particularly the endless self-promotion, quoting of other people by so-called experts, and the lack of value.
I wrote down that I’d had it with mainstream media too. Endless negativity, bad news and self-interest.
I wrote down that I was tired of algorithms trying to dictate what I look at.
The more I wrote the better I felt!
My passion for ‘andorithms’, those qualities that make us human, reemerged.
Here’s my 9 key lessons from my month’s experiment of no media.
1) I've enjoyed and given and gained great value from conversations in person and online where there wasn't a smart phone distracting or disrupting us.
2) I have a couple of hours per day to be a better human, and to better experience nature and other humans.
I'm better and wiser for the experience particularly as I can invest in more deep work and by definition less shallow work.
3) Life is so much better without the negativity, self-interest and bias, and the bullshit (fake news, lies and propaganda) of all forms of the media.
4) As a consequence of unsubscribing from emails that are just fronts for trying to flog me stuff I don't want or need, my in-box is much easier to empty every day and my replies to other emails are better and more valuable to the recipients.
5) I'm much more relaxed. I feel a better human. I'm free of the false feeling of the need to be liked, instead I'm more loved by family, friends, colleagues and clients (and my dog!).
6) Living a life without the constant noise of the media in the background means that my life is more peaceful and in harmony and flow.
7) My social network more than ever now is being in person with family, friends, colleagues and clients. Online still has a place in my future particularly in increasing the value of my relationships with my network through technology like Zoom.
The big difference is that I'll be much more deliberate in choosing when, where and what. I've lost interest in algorithms and their undue influence.
8) Just sitting and thinking and often just sitting are more of a practice now. Less distracted by technology and more distracted by life in a non shallow way.
9) I'm more valuable to the people who matter in my life.
3 recommended actions
1) Make it your personal practice to regularly take time out from all forms of media.
2) Undertake a review of your personal and family philosophies concerning the ‘Internet of things’. Ask, What is truly adding value to our lives? Disentangle yourselves from everything that isn’t adding real value.
3) Of all the third places you feel you really belong to where are you giving and receiving the greatest value? What modifications/changes will you make?
Recommended deep work
1) Involve people at all levels in your organisation in an extensive review of your philosophies concerning the ‘Internet of things’.
2) Undertake a further detailed review of all your policies, procedures, practices, processes, projects and systems and update so that they truly mean it’s simple for people to bring the best version of themselves to their work.
It’s likely that in your review you will discover that many people are still not doing work that is meaningful for them and highly valuable for others.
There’s more about this in the designing and delivering meaningful and valuable work section of Sparkenation 12 in my Remarkable Workplaces book.
For now consider the following diagram that depicts the new world of work and ask a part of your review, How will we better our competitive advantage?
Do Your Work.
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