24/7 expectation has created an individual, personal, en masse, chaotic world. It didn’t happen overnight but somewhere over the years we stopped, stopping. It used to be customary to stop, or to relax and pause. In many ways, pauses were automatically built into our day because the world moved much slower and we didn’t put so much pressure on time pressed productivity. The check really was in the mail and it took at least 4 days to get anywhere. There was an expectation of waiting. There was the understanding that everything took time. We weren’t so impatient and that alone gave us time to pause. Today, technology, excess choice and unrealistic expectations keep us in overdrive. And, the faster we move, the more distorted our perception of time becomes. We used to “stop to smell the flowers.” Now we "stop to smell the coffee", only while we drink it so we can get back to work or whatever we are doing to get more done.
In an absurd contradiction, technology has made our lives more complicated by making everything so convenient, accessible and fast. Email, instant messaging and social networking are the definition of a modern paradox. While fast and accessible, they are also some of the biggest time bandits we face today. There is little that sucks up time faster than constantly trying to empty the inbox. At the same time, social networking has turned six degrees of separation into one degree and has made everyone the star, writer, producer and director of their own reality show. It's also spawned a whole new way of doing business. It can be exhilarating and exhausting. One thing is for sure, it takes time and for so many, it takes priority.
Because the Internet is here all the time, it feels that the same is expected of us. This creates the pressure to respond and the stress to produce, in an instant. There is a cultural distortion that implies “if you don’t respond quickly, you don’t care . . . if you don't produce immediately, you're not on top of things.” I remember when it was expected that smart business proposals took time to construct, write and present (in the long lost method of "in person"). Now, we are sent a request for proposal, expected to see it the minute it hits the inbox and further, expected to drop everything else (also urgent, of course) to ensure it's immediate response (via email). Gone are realistic time based expectations and face to face communication. The new deadline is "due yesterday" and not only do we speak with our fingertips, but like everything else, they are always in motion.
There is so much more to say on this topic but I'll save it for later because I know that everything takes time; even reading the blog. This post just skims the surface of why we need to see a sea change. More later on how RELAX. SET. GO. will start the motion. Right now, just take a deep breath, relax and pause. Feels good even when things don't.