Friday, March 06, 2009


Sometimes I struggle with some things that I do in society. I work in the telecommunications industry and help to facilitate and propagate new technologies that make the world more and better connected. That has it's good and bad sides.
For one, I love technology. I play with it at home for fun and feel VERY fortunate to have a job that allows me to earn a living in something that I enjoy.
Another love of mine as most people know, is outdoor activities and in particular, adventure racing. These two interests of mine are very much at odds with each other and reconciling the nature of each in my life and mind is sometimes confusing.
Allow me to backtrack a little.
After leaving high-school, I joined the Army and did Satellite communications and Intelligence Analysis. This was not really that taxing mentally, but often, it was physically demanding being part of a rapid deployment airborne unit at Ft. Bragg. Basically, I was physically challenged, but not mentally.

Upon my honorable discharge and leaving the pride of serving my country behind me, I made the transition to a civilian job working with IBM Global Services in Tampa Florida. This job was the complete opposite of my previous life with the Army in the sense that it was mentally demanding, but offered no physical challenge. As is the case with many people in the corporate world, I needed both types of stimulus. Interestingly enough, Ted Kaczynski touched on this very thing in his "manifesto" and the effects of the industrial revolution on society. If you've never read it, please take the time to do so with an open mind and think about some of the implications of technology on our daily lives. (another similar and fascinating article here)
Back to the present.
One thing that technology does is the enablement of more multi-tasking (based on one's capacity for such) due to ever increasing computing power. This multi-tasking in the networking arena allows for more and faster communications via different mediums. The very definition of communication is the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs. ( Now that we're able to exchange thoughts and ideas instantaneously with anyone and everyone that wants to know, how much substantially relevant info is being communicated. Obviously the answer to that subjective question depends on the individual perspective, but I feel that the more access we have to entertainment and each other, the less originality there seems to be.
This leads me to wonder just how much ease of information access or communication is necessary.
This is also one of the conflicts that I see in my own life.
Yes, I twitter. I'm on Facebook and MySpace, and obviously, I blog. I love technology and I support my family through the use and furtherment of technology, but electronic communication is (IMO) impersonal and requires less human interaction. Of course face to face communication isn't always geographically possible, but those people who are regionally capable, still lean on electronic means of communicating due to convenience.
The conveniences that technology has created for us has led to more sedentary lifestyles for many. A sedentary lifestyle doesn't fit with my idea of "living." To me, there's a big difference between existing and actually living.
When I'm trail running or mountain biking, I can be alone with my thoughts while being physically challenged. During this time, I am being myself without feeling the need to check or update my electronic "status" with the world.
Don't get me wrong. Communication is essential and I feel that EFFECTIVE communication is falling by the wayside for many reasons. Ignorance and apathy to name a couple.
Perhaps if we as a society had less convenience, we might be better communicators. If we were forced to actually FACE those with whom we wished or needed to communicate with, there might be more empathy and understanding amongst our fellow humans.
Since I'm thinking out loud, I guess it all boils down to a matter of personal choice. This is a problem though because when given the chance, most people with choose the path of least resistance or perceived greatest pleasure instead of the road less traveled.

Are you making the most of life or are you letting life make the most of you before it uses you up and discards you?


Anonymous said...

When one of those areas of life becomes less easily accessible by greater demands in another area, appreciation of the area restricted increases; ie knee surgery. You will have an instant come-back for this comment now, but I predict you will adjust that opinion later in life. That last comment is not meant to imply that you are wrong. It is good to know that you are enjoying the stage of life that you are in.

shliknik said...

Enjoyed your post.

Like you, I work in a field (illustration) where I communication is the key (ideas through iamges)....but is almost entirely sedentary (I don't draw while I run!).

While I enjoy my job and spending hours drawing, I never feel more alive than when I'm running on a trail at 6:00am.

Erik Barnes said...

Oh deep....that's what I love about you man. I definitely hear what you are saying brother and I have these same internal conflict on a daily basis. Caught between my love for the outdoors and my thirst for technological knowledge. And on top of that my geographical (Florida)limitations to get out and do what I like to do (hike, fly fish, etc). While most would probably disagree, I believe we all have a little "Ted" in us. Not the destructive side of Ted but rather the side that hates technology for eroding our human freedom.

We have become lazy by means of technology therefore we must make conscience decisions to reverse this trend. I have heard of a company that actually has "no e-mail Friday". I love the concept! If you want to communicate with someone you either have to go to their office or call them on the phone.

Well most occasions, I could not agree with you more. Isn't there a little irony in the fact that I am typing this rather than calling you:-)