I give thanks daily for my many blessings, including all the benefits that I derive from living in a technologically advanced society. Yet, there are costs (not always evident) that come with the territory. I’m talking about the unseen, systemic dynamics that pervade our lives in our daily struggles to ‘keep up.’
Firstly, there is a quickened pace in our business concerns that seems to bleed into every facet of our private lives as well. I need only go to Vancouver and be bombarded by the intense energy to be reminded of the relative speed of the bigger city. It feels like a splash of insanity, or rather an imbalance to me. I believe that the further we position ourselves apart from the natural rhythm of nature (that is also our ‘innate’ pace), the more out of sync we are with our optimum health. The disparity shows up as stress in its many forms.
Another dynamic of modernity is its propensity for specialization, where no-one quarterbacks any one issue. When I think of the enormous task of wading into any sort of larger company (or God forbid government, particularly Revenue Canada) to try to get to the bottom of a problem, let alone fix it, I anticipate a user-unfriendly black hole, with a labyrinth of departments, each of which has no idea of what the other department is doing. Yet each clerk inside each systemic pigeon hole seems to have a big red button (with my name on it) that can instantly torpedo my credit into the bowels of the earth, never to be considered by ‘good’ people, for the rest of my earthly existence. Inevitably, when a mistake is made, it’s virtually impossible to find out what went wrong or who pushed the button. In the end, no-one need take responsibility except me – the low person on the ‘food chain.’
Finally, our ability to communicate globally seems to be, at first glance, a factor in promoting communication. Yet when I think of the trials and tribulations of email, the primary tool used, I shudder to think of the shortcomings in exchanging information. That includes intention, humour, and nuances that are too subtle and not within the purview of the written word. After all, something like 80% of communication happens outside of the verbal landscape. I think about the type of ‘information’ that I get on the phone, and better still in person, compared to email. Especially if I didn’t know the person whom I’ve emailed, a lot of my subsequent exchange is to correct the misconceptions from the initial emails. My point is that although our reach seems wide spread, the nature of our connections may be more broad than deep; more part of a new problem rather than solving one.
So, in our ever-changing (change itself is stress), fast paced, world of specialization where we may have forfeited much of our human faculties to communicate, we are constantly attempting to cope with the imbalance and stress that is part and parcel of our society. Since information is power, we would be well advised to embrace this "view from 5,000 ft.” as part of our strategy in coping with modern day life.
Helena Green is a freelance writer in Nanaimo.