Increasingly we are disconnected.
It is as simple as that and as complicated as that. We are disconnected from each other. The relationships that we have are finely strung interwoven webs of very fragile connections. The connections are fragile because of all of the miscommunication. Even when we stand in front of each other today and talk person to person we are still communicating less effectively than we did years ago.
People in all walks of business are becoming more increasingly angry and frustrated and as a friend puts it we are all suffering from some form of “disaster fatigue.” As I watched the news last night, and we wrapped up and closed the latest great tragedy that will surely get a name and a conspiracy theory assigned to it, I was troubled by the thought that all we seek is closure (quickly). After 4 days and exhaustive efforts and incredible detective work, it is finally over. Oh thank G-d it is over! Now we can move onto the next great tragedy and forget about this one unless we want to make some great point in a position paper or argument. The media is disgusting at times. There is no such thing as journalist integrity anymore, shame on them. Shame on us too, because we watch it and we let them entertain us with their constant barrage of tragedy and despair. They keep us on the edge of our seats and then wrap up people’s lives like it is a novel.
I most appreciated and still have the images of the “experts” smiling as they discussed this case and the situation. I am not being too sensitive, the world is no longer sensitive enough. It is desensitized and disconnected. We are turning into a culture of racing changes and closure. It is as if in our lives we are rocks that are being skimmed across a pond. Every surface contact is the experience of a major event or situation only to end sunken and somewhere.
It isn’t as if humanity is new or that we haven’t experienced changes or tragedy in the history of our world. It seems as if there is just more for us individually to consume at a faster rate and more knowledge to handle in multiple levels of thought and conscience. It is overloading people on an individual level. What happens is they effectively shut off noise. Noise may be important but can’t be handled. It takes time to deal with noise and we have no time.
When you walk into your bosses office and you ask to talk to him or her and they are reading their email or texting or doing something else other than paying attention to what you have to say, it becomes personal to you but isn’t to them, they are simply filtering. The problem is that this is our world. This is what we are morphing into. A noisy place with no time to think and no time to listen. We get less than half of a story and it needs to close so that we can move on to another story.
When Martin Richard, 8, Dorchester, Massachusetts was murdered in cold blood by the senseless act of these young men in Boston, will you remember Martin next week? For his family, my heart hurts today. It is true that my heart hurt yesterday for the senseless Newtown killings but as far as we are concerned (mostly) it is over and behind us. How many of the children do you remember? How many were killed? What were their names? Do you know? What about 911? How many were killed? What were their names? Time heals all wounds except the ones that are everlasting. The everlasting wounds that run deep in the families of those who have lost or the left over feelings that are underlying in our hearts. The undertone of despair and sadness that we carry with us. Only to be added onto by the next tragedy and the next and the next. Never forget, always remember but if you do forget in your mind, you may not forget in your heart. What do we do when we feel so much? We disconnect so that we don’t have to feel. We don’t need our tears anymore because we don’t have the capacity to manage all of our feeling input and we have nothing left in our emotional tanks that would allow us to cry. Although there are times when someone is close enough to us that we will be compelled by overwhelming emotion to feel. We are mostly.. away.
The only point I will add here is that this behavior and situation impacts us at work beyond the obvious. Since we are failing to communicate effectively, we are augmenting our communication with explicit and highly technical surrogates. One of my areas of work and great concern is Knowledge Management. Why is KM one of the top concerns of leadership around the globe today? Because knowledge is happening faster and change is happening faster and everything is happening faster. The demands for fast and short term solutions and short term thinking and short term closure of issues is driving organizations around the world to dismiss the criticality of the long term and strategic thinking. This speed need is creating demand for the 15 minute manager, the short term rockstar, the idol (American) or other. The quick win. Snatching the bird from the hand and forgetting that there are a few in the bush. Lack of patience, lack of quality, lack of service, lack of value, lack of kindness and other mass effects.
Lack of connection… lack of a real true connection. The ultimate result is that there is no trust. No trust = failure.
How many know me? My passion, my hopes, my dreams? How many know my intent? How many trust me? I am connected.. I am connected digitally to a lot of people. I don’t even know a number to tell you but let us say a lot.
So, as I said in the beginning it is simple and simply complicated. It is not about unplugging ourselves and disconnecting from the world. It is about taking steps to engage and listen to the noise and to turn it off when someone is standing in front of us. It is about, responding to those who reach out to us and building trust where we can and when it makes sense. It is about love and looking for small simple small acts of kindness within ourselves without any measurable expectations.
We need to manage our connections and make time to disconnect. We certainly can’t hold the world in our hands but we can grab a piece of the world when we need it, put it back on the shelf when we don’t and trust that the rest is beyond us.