The paradox of progress

All technological advancements have had one aim: to make our lives better. And of course, to save us time. But there is a startling paradox: the more ways we invent to save time, the less time we seem to have.

The pace of the world is getting faster and faster. A friend of mine recently shared an insightful line that she heard at a leadership forum, “Today is the slowest day of the rest of your life.” A scary thought to contemplate. Yes, where does the time go???

With all technology there is good and bad. The car seems like a marvelous idea. But when the car became a reality no one ever considered drunken drivers, for example. Such a serious problem this is, that getting a “DUI” in America can ruin a person’s life. Driving under the influence is no laughing matter. And of course, there are accidents, and thefts and carjackings. Yes, cars bring their fair share of problems. And the same goes for just about everything we invent or develop.

Airplanes are a miracle, but the world is afraid of terror attacks and hijackings. Mobile phones are another wonder, but we are glued to them, as if we were getting news that the world is about to end.

Let’s consider the online world made possible by the Internet. It brings us so much, and at the same time, it presents so many challenges. Loneliness is a leading disease and all this digital connectedness has disconnected our analogue souls.

We do things online constantly and we make ourselves more and more vulnerable. Social media is a key example – people put all kinds of personal info online and never think twice about it. Hackers out there are using this against us, and online crime is on the up and up.

New things hit the market, and we jump right in, and before we know it, we are anxious. So we pass new laws, and try and educate people, and then we invent new things to help us enforce these laws. The car led to the breathalyzer, the airplane must have had something to do with the widespread adoption of x-ray machines at airports, and the mobile phone has led to all kinds of depression medications, well, that is my guess. And of course, the Internet has paved the way for cyber-security firms, building firewalls, and developing anti-virus software, etc.

When you look at the modern day corporation, one of the biggest concerns is about data protection. Imagine if a hospital had its patients’ records exposed or modified. Think for a minute what would happen if a bank’s data got deleted. If you woke up tomorrow and logged on and saw a zero balance on your bank account… let’s not even go there. And what if government servers were compromised. Phew, there is no telling where this could all go… but, one thing is for sure, modern organizations need to start taking their infrastructure’s safety a lot more seriously.

Companies today need to do all they can to make sure they are not being breached, and “owned”, as the cyber-security world refers to it. Protecting your organization’s critical servers is a given. And with this, being made aware of a breach is fundamental. But this is a subject for another discussion.

Today I simply want to comment that with the good, comes the bad. We are living at warp speed and with each passing month we are embracing more and more tech. It is a miracle, yes, but also, it has a dark side.

This festive season I wish we all switch off a bit, and try and get some offline time. The souls of the world desperately need it.