Why time is flying

2011-06-29 00:00

COMMUNICATION is going to be the death of us if we don’t watch out.

Companies are simply going to have to start implementing procedures to prevent employees from burning out in their early 20s, because we simply cannot go on like this. I don’t think we were ever meant to.

Let me demonstrate what I am getting at.

I was chatting a while ago to an elderly woman in a queue where we were waiting to renew our annual motor car licences. It occurred to me that she would probably live to be 100 years old because unlike most of us who do our banking on our home computers via the Internet, she seemed very proud of the fact that she got into her car to go and draw money and then drove around town paying her accounts.

She didn’t have a cellphone or even an answering machine. She was not remotely interested in having a video recorder and didn’t watch satellite TV because she was so used to where SABC 1, 2 and 3 were on the remote.

She wrote letters to her children on paper and walked to the corner shops to post them. She got her son to print out e-mails and give her the piece of paper to read.

On the other hand I, like many of my peers, do everything by cellphone, e-mail and via the Internet. Using Twitter I can get a news story from a journalist before it is even written. I can find out what’s happening in the world from social media before the TV cameras get there. Everything happens quickly and efficiently. Well, sometimes it doesn’t and that causes enormous stress.

Unlike that elderly woman in the licence queue, I don’t go to the bank anymore. I don’t seem to have the time to get in the car, look for parking and side-step crowds of shoppers.

I do it all over the Internet and if it takes more than two minutes for me to do my monthly banking chores I get as tetchy as a bulldog without a car to chase.

And, unlike the woman in the licence queue, I continually wonder why time is flying by so fast.

Admit it, you’ve also been very much aware that the long-awaited year 2000 went by in a flash. That it’s long gone, old hat. It seemed like yesterday, but it was 11 years ago.

Now, it’s not because we’re getting old that time seems to fly by so fast. My children and grandchildren are also beginning to complain about tempus fugitting at an incredible rate of knots.

What’s happening is quite simply that communication has sped up. We don’t have to have meetings anymore, we can have video conferences. We don’t have to wait for letters, we can get instant e-mails. We don’t have to return phone calls, we’re always available on our cellphones.

And it can’t possibly be good for us. Because even when we go on holiday the ubiquitous cellphones and laptops are so readily at hand it is almost impossible to resist the temptation to check up on what’s going on in the office.

I find I can’t even go to the bathroom in peace without taking my smartphone. I am not alone. This is the way of the world.

So, in addition to myriad other challenges business has to face, it is going to have to come to grips with this dangerous phenomenon because we’re getting to the point of doing business so quickly that we’re beginning to look like that movie comedian hanging onto the back of the train with his legs pounding away in a blur.

Just what is the answer? Its not simple, that’s for sure.

Communication is like a drug — it gets to become a habit that is almost impossible to break. Look around you when you are out and about, almost everyone has their ear glued to a cellphone.

And no company can expect its employees to look after themselves when it comes to taking a break from what has become a completely frenetic almost hysterical rat race.

They’re going to have to insist on frequent leave. Insist on laptops and cellphones being handed in before departure.

I have friends in the United States who have to take their laptops and cellphones on holiday and agree to check for e-mails and messages every day. That’s not a holiday, for heaven’s sake.

Am I beginning so sound a little hysterical about all this? I hope so, because business has a nasty reputation for simply ignoring things like HIV/Aids and anything else that is threatening and which is always seen as someone else’s problem.

This painful new disease, called communication, is our problem and it is going to bite us all badly before we know it.

News 24.com

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