A few decades ago life was simpler. At 6 pm almost everyone you knew in the working world went home from the office. At 2 am you knew that you couldn’t call anyone as everyone you knew would be asleep.
Everyone had the same weekend days off so forget about doing business on a Thursday (Riyadh), Friday (Dubai) or Sunday (London).
In the always on economy though, it can be harder to switch off. A client/supplier/employee can easily be in a completely different time zone. 2 am your time means that someone on the other side of the world is still working and is a free phone call away.
It might be your weekend but a working day for your critical client.
So you got used to the 24/7 life in the globalized economy.
A few decades ago, if you were out of the house, and anyone wanted to reach you, they would have to wait until you came back to the house before they could talk to you. Today, you are never more than two meters away from your mobile phone.
A few decades ago, if people wanted to communicate with you they either called you on your home phone or they sent you a letter through the mail which took a few days to get to you. And knowing that they would have to find an envelope, pay 25 cents for the postage and then go all the way to the post office to send the mail – they would really think hard before getting in touch with you. Today, they can poke, BBM, Skype, MSN, call, SMS, Facebook, tweet or email you within a few seconds for free.
A few decades ago when you moved cities or graduated from college you made new friends and lost touch with your old friends. Old friends wouldn’t randomly look you up when they came by your city as they wouldn’t know where you were. Today, friends and relatives you haven’t spoken to for over a decade know more about your life through Facebook than your next door neighbors.
A few decades ago your social circle was limited to the few people whose phone number you could remember or write down and the friends that were a few kilometers from your house. Today, your cell phone can store thousands of numbers, getting on an airplane is no big deal and social networking sites make it easy to keep in touch with thousands of people at once.
A few decades ago you felt truly appreciated if anyone sent you a birthday card or even remembered it was your birthday. Today, Facebook automatically tells all your friends about your birthday and you get a “happy birthday x” from dozens of people you haven’t even met for a few years.
In ever increasing social circles and connectivity, it’s important to switch off. To “ctrl alt delete” your life once in a while. To not check your Facebook, SMS, blackberry messenger and the million other “must have” gadgets/apps that take you away from the real world and into the virtual world of tiny computer screens.
So, if case you were wondering why I hadn’t posted anything for a few weeks or responded to any emails, I was switching off. And the lessons from my few weeks of switching off: The world didn’t end because I didn’t check my emails/Facebook and that I should switch off more often.
When will you switch off?