Saturday, November 3, 2012

The super-connected syndrome

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My generation is very unique. We, currently 23-28 years of age,  have seen so many transitions in so many things, which can not really be compared with. We have seen times without and with land line phones, pagers, mobiles, and today's smartphones. We have seen days with only big fat typewriters and no computers, to black and white ones to Pentiums to iMacs and tablets. We have seen days when a concept called pen- friend existed, to today's' multiform social networking. Cable TV came into our homes when we were kids to the satellite Dish to HD and internet TV. In a decade or so, so many things changed. Talking just within the telecommunication industry, so many things changed. And we saw them changing, and we adapted to them as smoothly as fish in water. 

Now most of my peers, 23 to 28, are in jobs which use all these telecommunication tools as a given. We are in a small world, where my clientele ranges from Nagpur to Nigeria to New york. We communicate through Mobile phones. Through internet- through emails, VoIPs. The tools are an integral part of our lives. And hence, the line between our personal and our professional lives have started blurring. I know I am not making a super great observation, but I feel it at work everyday.

Fortunately, I do not work in a team which needs to be in touch with clients from all the parts of the world, all the time. But I have friends and I have colleagues who do. We are constantly on call. or typing that e-mail. or typing a SMS. This does not restrict to work. We have synched our smartphones to  e-mails, so we check mails on our phones, on our way back home. We have laptops so we carry our work home.  the day ends. and we are  back to the same routine next day. 

I get this if one is in a job where life-threatening situation arises. Doctor/Firefighter/police. Or may be a stock broker, where the industry is super volatile and you have to be checking it all the time. May be a MD, whose one call will decide the future for some hundreds of employees. May be a reporter, who constantly needs to check on the updates. But why all? Why does a mere BD manager need to be constantly glued to cellphone or laptop? even at 2 30 in the night? Why does a business analyst need to be glued all the time? Why does an architect need to be always connected? Is their job such that if they do not attend the call at 2 30 am, and attend at 7 am instead, somebody might die? What is that need of staying super connected to all, at all the time? 

I do not get this. And day by day I have started pitying the working personnel. The work life balance is screwed. Some body, who works in an office for decent 8-10 hours, commutes for 2 hours, is denied his or her 'me' time. Leave aside a hobby, there is constant division of time at home, and the immediate affected are family. There is no time for kids, for a pleasant talk with spouse, for exercise, or in some cases even for food.  This might be a global phenomenon. But I see it more in India. I have seen European working conditions, and most of the people there focus on their me time, their work life balance. Once you are off to home, you normally enter your personal life, and can be at distance from professional life. Here, unfortunately in most cases, it is not so. I recently got connected to a client who says on his LinkedIn profile, that being '24 by 7' is his specialty! Taking pride in not having personal life is beyond me.

The worst part of it is that, it infuses unnecessary guilt. If you disconnect on some day, you feel guilty. Or worse, if somebody is not staying connected all the time, the office atmosphere makes him feel guilty about it. I get that it is an outcome of many factors, and there is no chance that it is going to get better in time coming. But I hope there are people like me, who will be in a position to take a firm stand that they will maintain their work life balance as much as possible and do not have to stay super-connected to entire world at all the time.

 Stress tests, anti-depressants, smoking, alcohol, lifestyle deceases, psychologists and divorces are booming for a reason you see.


Swanand said...

Completely agree with this getting glued to cellphones... Sadly, people even neglect someone talking to them just for commenting on Facebook... :/

Pradnya said...

yea... Nothing to disagree with. It gets pretty irritating when some one is typing an e-mail or a chat on Whatsapp when the other person is talking. It's very disrespectful!