Is technology making our lives more complicated?

Posted on 23/10/2014 by Karen

I was at my hairdresser’s the other day and noticed her system for booking appointments. A big book, the size of a Kalamazoo ledger. (ummm… if you’re under 35, perhaps Google that.) Anyway, she got out the pencil and the rubber and changed an appointment in about 10 seconds flat.

I commented on her antiquated system and told her that it reminded me of my accounting system. Green 8 and 14 Column books, pencil and rubber. Yes, yes, laugh your head off. But after years of trying different bookkeepers, losing track of what was going on, deciding to get myself better informed, going to 2 MYOB sessions, getting 2 followup visits to my office to get it bought, installed, then getting my head around it all, and still failing miserably, I gave up. And went back to basics.

The really funny thing is, I used to be an accounts clerk. I’m actually really good with numbers. But my brain just wants simplicity. So I say, yes, try things, but don’t caught up in the hype that you have to do things the new, better, improved way or feel stupid because you can’t, or you don’t want to.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the internet! It brings me business. I Google everything. What did we do before Google???!!! I even have the 3 Chinese lucky coins stuck on the front of my Mac desktop, for good Feng Shui.

Back to (phone) basics?

I have a client who creates apps and I was helping him with some editing of his copy when he started talking a bit of geek-speak to me.

So I did what I always do when this happens – I pulled out my mobile phone and showed it to him. I am Smart-Phone resistant. I have a basic Nokia 110 that I bought last year because I only want text and phone calls. Because I want a small phone. And because I drop my phone regularly. It’s got gaffer tape on it. But it works just fine, the battery stays charged for ages, and it’s all I need.

My client, Glen, didn’t laugh at me like people usually do. In fact, he said he predicts a swing back to basic phones for a reasonable-sized segment of the population. When I showed my phone to a lady in a local shop later that week, she got all excited, asked me where I got it and was going to rush down there to buy one because she didn’t want a big Smart-Phone either. So Glen may be right.

Some stressed clients

The real reason for this blog is that I’ve had quite a number of conversations lately, either with my clients or with other business people who are having tech issues and getting extremely stressed out by trying to do everything and feeling like a failure when they can’t. To add insult to injury, they are comparing themselves with the people around them who CAN use technology well and who are saying ‘what’s your problem?’

It kinda reminds me of the days back at school when you’re sweating bullets, yet frozen, pen in hand, just glazed-eyed-staring-down at the exam paper in front of you, coz you don’t know the answer and everyone around you is happily scribbling away furiously.

Our Brave New World

I say we’ve created a world where we have to do lots of different things and be good at lots of different things in order to do well. Contrast this with the world just a couple of hundred years ago, when we were specialists. You were master of one thing, like a cook, or a blacksmith or a carpenter or a teacher. That’s what you did. That’s ALL you did. Now, I’m not saying that was a better world, I’m just saying that I’m sure that our brains weren’t built for so much multi-tasking. And research seems to be proving it.

Is multi-tasking bad for us?

I’ve seen a program that showed 97% of us cannot multi-task well. Even if we think we can, we actually get LESS done because we constantly have to jump from one part of our brain to another. Which of course, takes time. And slows us down. I saw an article the other day that said multi-taskers have less grey matter in their brains! So, my pledge to me is… less multi-tasking and more staying in the present and doing one thing at a time, well. But at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s technology that’s the problem. It’s just that we don’t know how to switch off.