Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Man vs. Machine or Man is Machine?

I’m not a social scientist, an anti-social scientist or a Christian Scientist, but if you’re pursuing a career in advertising (no matter where you are in that pursuit, just starting out or just ending up) I suggest you conduct a little experiment.

Get up early one weekend morning, say around 7AM and go out for a walk. This works especially well if you live in a dense urban environment with a mix of single people, old people and families and if it’s a temperate day without rain.

Leave your phone at home. If you have a dog bring her along. Now give yourself 20 minutes, about a mile’s walk and then say a good, hearty “Good Morning” to everyone you pass on the street.

Watch what happens.

About 7/8th of the people, though it’s for most people stupidly early, are looking at their phones. Your salutation will startle them and—shockingly—they’ll look up. Some will be annoyed and look at you like you tried to molest them somehow. A small number will wake out of their i-induced stupor and muster and smile and a good-morning back. 

Some, probably because they’re ear-podded, won’t break at all. They won’t look up or acknowledge you. The remaining 1/8th of those you encounter, aren’t involved with their phones. They’re walking dogs or pushing strollers. Some of them are even friendly.

There's not much of a point here today, either that or there's a major point.

It's this.

Somehow I think as a society, almost all of us have all-but-forgotten how to be human. We have melded with our technology to the point we are more attached to our devices than we are to other people.

Along with this, I think the corporate-governmental-surveillance-always-on-the-brink-of-being-fired-economy has rendered us all scared. We are scared to be away from our devices lest we not spend 112 hours a week checking and responding to our work email. So we never look up.

I wrote this on Rosh Hashana, one of the Holiest days of the Jewish year--as I like to say "the Jewish Holiday scheduled 5780 years ago"--I received over 100 work emails. 

That ain't right. That's an email every six minutes. Even if it is about half as many as usual.

We're on too-short of an in-human leash. We are attached too-much to our devices, the demands on us. It is demanded of us to never look up, never be off, always be working. 

In fact we are meant to be so busy--enamored even of work--that we are meant to ignore our absolute disposability. Despite giving more and more to our employers, despite never not checking and working and responding, we can be kicked to the curb at any moment, with no kindness or protection.

We have forgotten how to look up and smile. We have forgotten that we are humans first. And that human connection--if we can infiltrate it into our work and our daily communications--will separate us from about 99% of everything else.

Something is wrong here.


No comments: