Virtual Teams

Present Shock?

Internet Addiction? Connection Fatigue? “Present Shock”?

The number of ways that we can communicate via technology has increased extremely rapidly over the past few years.  This explosion of new technologies includes media such as Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, Huddle, etc. etc. not to mention blogging and web feeds.  And over the past few years many of these have become a part of our lives.

But this new way of communicating is raising several important questions including: –

  • Are younger people different from older ones in the way they communicate and does business need to take this on board?
  • Are these tools simply a distraction for employees, and therefore should they be banned at work?
  • Are these technologies fundamentally changing the way we communicate or not?
  • Is any change for the better, or for the worse, or is it just different?
  • Which of these technologies are key for business and how does business get the best out of them?

I came across an interesting book recently which has something to say about these questions.  In PRESENT SHOCK: When Everything Happens NowDouglas Rushkoff introduces a phenomenon of today which he calls presentism and “Present Shock”.

In this book he argues that much of this new technology creates a sense of immediacy and this means that we live our lives entirely in the present.  So we no longer have a sense of a future, or of direction but rather have a new relationship to time – we live in an always-on “now,” where the priorities of this moment seem to be everything.

Anyone who has seen people doing emails in meetings or answering mobiles will know exactly what he is talking about, and I wrote about the damaging consequences of this in a recent blog on multitasking.

Examples he cites include stock traders who no longer look to the future but make their profits off their algorithmic trades themselves.  Or how kids ‘txt’ during parties to find out if there’s something better happening in the moment, somewhere else.

Rushkoff postulates five ways that we’re struggling, as well as how the best of us are thriving in the now: –

  1. Narrative collapse – “The loss of linear stories with no goals to justify the journeys”
  2. Digiphrenia – because technology lets us be in more than one place at the same time we are in danger of becoming overwhelmed
  3. Overwinding – trying to squish huge timescales into much smaller ones living through sound-bites without ever going into detail
  4. Fractalnoia – making sense of our world entirely in the present tense, by drawing connections between things without reference to past or future
  5. Apocalypto – the intolerance for presentism leads us to fantasize a grand finale yearning for a simpler life.

Source: Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now”, by Douglas Rushkoff. (Mar 21, 2013)

Why not?

If you find this describes your world then don’t despair: Global Integration provides ideas, training and consulting for leaders, teams and individuals who work in complex companies to help them deal with these and the many other challenges including working with technology in the 21st century.

And keep an eye on this blog. We’re going to be discussing some key technology in the workplace issues over the coming weeks. To make sure you don’t miss out, sign up above for either a weekly round up of all our blogs by email, or for the RSS feed (look for the ‘radar’ symbol above).


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