Recently, we had a conversation in our editorial department about what each of us thought has been the most important technological invention in our lifetimes (our ages span 24 years to 50 years old.)
One said cell phones; one said the Internet; another said caller ID; and I said widespread ATM availability. There are lots of answers, of course. The home computer (and workplace computers), GPS, hybrid technology, and even the 500 or so cable channels we can get now are among a slew of them.
I remember when many of these technologies were emerging and people were saying how they’d make our lives easier. Alternatively, people also were saying how we’d lose jobs because of automation in manufacturing. The latter, for the most part, came true; we lost production line jobs. The former is less clear cut. Sure, the Internet has saved us time by not having to go to the library and dealing with the Dewey Decimal System. Not having to wait in a long bank line on Friday afternoon or early Saturday morning to get enough money out to last through Sunday is nice. And knowing if you want to pick up the phone has saved us having to make up excuses to get off of it when we answer it. But when it comes to the workplace, whether or not technology has made our lives easier really depends on whether or not you love what you do.
If you do, then the incessant connectivity to the workplace is a godsend. After all, if it’s a passion, then you can’t get enough of it. Conversely, all those digital ties to the workplace, with e-mails, cell phones, logging onto the server remotely and so on, can burn you out in a hurry, if you don’t love what you do. It’s this last part that I don’t remember hearing anything about back when people were saying that all of this was going to be great for us. Today, because of this, kids (and adults, too), more than ever before, really need to find what it is they’re good at doing and what doesn’t feel like work when they do it. It’s not easy to find this and make it work, but work and technology will continue to evolve and what seems certain is that both are inching closer to a 24/7 lifestyle.