Always Online; blessing or curse (and a practical guide)

iu-3Many people and companies consider the concept of Always Online as a blessing humanity had waited for many years. Always able to check your mail, the ability to be reached by phone, or more important the ability to phone whenever you want. How could our parents live without this luxury (somehow they did).


It indeed has great value. Recently two Dutch students were lost while taking a walking trip in Turkey, but were able to sent an SMS through their phone, which helped the rescue searchers to narrow their search and luckily find them. My wife also was very happy recently when the tire of her care broke down and she could call the Car services. Particularly with the horrible tires which nobody can remove without using force.


But it also has downsides. First of all the disturbance people will face with the possibility to call in the train of plain or have Internet access above the Pacific Ocean. One of our CTO’s recently had a flight towards Australia and was bothered with a loud phoning businessman on his flight. Good (?) thing was that he also had Internet connection so we all could enjoy on Facebook whilst the incident was happening (what about real time society). Also the ignorance we have about who can listen to our calls is mind-blowing. Also in the Netherlands this week one of the members of Parliament decided to quite with his role as spokesperson for the gas industry in the Netherlands, since he made several non-diplomatic comments on his phone while returning to the Hague with the train.


My biggest worry is not so much about these aspects, but much more about the concentration spent I see happening with our children and us. In one of the TechnoVision postings I made for TechnoVision 2014, I already reflected on this point, although in a different context. My worry is that all these productivity-enhancing tools will have a negative impact on our ability to focus, concentrate over a longer period of time and create time to reflect.


It is not so much that I am against progress (I consider myself still to be a technology enthusiast) but we need to learn and teach how to create what I call “moments of reflections”. Building this into your daily routine will not only increase focus and concentration (not to mention mental and physical health), it will also make us more productive in our use of technology. Thereby some guidelines that I would like to suggest to life a technology fulfilling live:

  • Start your day with a 15 minute meditation or breathing session (not with checking Facebook)
  • Plan your lunch with people (not behind your laptop or mobile)
  • Make sure you walk enough during the day (without facing down to check your mail)
  • Spent time to cook without any devices in the room (use a meal you know, don’t come with an excuse you need the recipe)
  • Have a good talk with you partner, family member or somebody else in the evening
  • End your day with a 15 minute meditation
  • Finally try to plan an electronic free day per month, or week per year


Ps. Good thing is you can always use your device to plan this and a wearable to track it. Good thing for the technology diehards amongst you