The other day I caught a very old episode of Leave It To Beaver on cable. As I sat there, engaged with the black & white TV show, it reminded me of the days when I was a kid, living in Silicon Valley during the '70s. Before the hoopla of Google, Yahoo and Facebook, there was just a tree-lined street in Mountain View, bike riding, tree climbing, and ditching cars at 9 o'clock at night. A "shine' that reminded a person of how good life felt.
It seemed like all of that has either disappeared or is overshadowed by the tech boom, which changed our environment into a rat race, complete with drive-while-you-text habits, online meetings and lots of traffic. What happened to that "shine" that defined our lives before everything got so damn busy?
Sure, part of the evolution can be blamed [on a personal level] to graduating from school, managing a career and a family, and being a serial startup person. That's enough to make life hectic for anybody. But those are bullet points in an adult's life which never really go away, like death or taxes. But what about our day to day experiences? Do we allow ourselves to be driven by what we "think" are requirements in life? Rushing to meetings, working nights and weekends to complete projects, or driving like a madman to get through traffic to an appointment? I thought technology was supposed to make life easier, not harder? Remember George Jetson? How did we stray from that paradigm?
Let's not forget -- America is a capitalist society. What this means for us is that money talks, and more importantly more money speaks louder. Technology, which has always presented itself as a way to make life better, has instead been taken hostage by capitalism. Our capitalist society deems that "anything that can be used to make money shall be used as such without hesitation." The rule goes for technology as well -- which brings us to life today. Everything has a cost of goods sold, a profit margin, a product life cycle, and a next-gen. Technology has been productized the same way we've turned the basic brown bag meal into a pre-packed "lunchable."
It feels like we need to reinvent the shine of yesterday.
Silicon Valley is full of innovators, inventors, and technologists, who possess the ability to leverage technology to bring back the ease-of-use that was life in black & white. Technology, if used correctly, can slow down our hectic day -- as long as some idiot doesn't turn around and say "Hey, this is much easier -- now we can do 10 things in parallel!" which is exactly what's happening today.
We need to re-teach ourselves to insert some padding in life, the same way we add days to an MS Project schedule. Instead of daisy-chaining tasks to the point where our planners are filled, we need to plug in a few "busy" tasks, where "busy" means nothing more than stopping to relax and slow life down a bit. If one person does it, typically that person will get run over or bypassed. But if many people do this, the padding slowly becomes accepted as part of our schedules -- or so the thought goes.
This is Friday. Are you squeezing in end-of-week tasks, or are you planning your day-off activities? The term "TGIF" is supposed to represent a defined end to the work week. Take the effort to regain the shine that you remember as a kid. If we all do it, maybe life will slow down, even just a bit.
... at least slow enough to turn your hectic life of 64 million colors, into black & white...