Put the stick down

May 1, 2016

I have come to the view that the tone of everything is wrong. The noise is too much, the analysis is too shallow and the conclusions are too easy.

However, before I go on (and I will), I need to put a disclaimer around my remarks. I am a middle-aged male with a Nokia 6230. The last disrupting technology I was happy to accept was automatic doors. I was never an earnest commentator excited by the thought 3G, 4G or any number G, or whether virtual anything will enhance my world.

I am not a target market for anything now except comfortable trousers.

So walk away now if my Luddite tendencies will grate. I don’t want to cause offence; I just feel the need to quietly explode.

Tens of thousands of years ago, someone picked up a stick and scratched their back. It was the perfect tool for the task. The gentleman concerned told his friends and soon everyone was using the newly found solution to an age old problem. Before too long, people were using multiple versions of the stick, each improving on the last version, even coming in different types of tree. It was fabulous. Then one day someone picked up a stick and poked out their eye. The world was shocked. The stick in the wrong hands was no longer a panacea, but a weapon that could do great harm. Previously happy stick carriers suddenly felt that the solution carried too much threat and the stick was vilified.

All technology since the stick carries the same potential, to metaphorically scratch backs or to poke out eyes.

So, now the latest sticks are available, these sticks are called Artificial Intelligence. I don’t want to be harsh, but I don’t give a flying bucket of pigeon sick.

In the last twenty years I have seen the email revolution, the mobile telephony revolution, the big data revolution and many other now long forgotten automated this, that and the other revolutions.

So many revolutions in fact that one might assume we are dizzy with all the spinning. So what has happened to human beings? Well, it seems to me that we work harder than ever, for longer than ever, doing more than ever. Competition has increased, some prices have fallen, clients are ever more demanding and for this our stress levels are higher than ever and job satisfaction is lower than ever.

This is not a plea for the return of ball-point pens, carbon paper and nice letters with neat hand-writing; but it is a sincere “for fuck sake” can we just stop acting like toddlers looking for a sugar rush circling around a newly discovered barrel load of Smarties.

Technology is not great, new is not better, marketing is not truth, old is not wrong, change is not good, smarter isn’t smart, quicker isn’t necessary, cheaper isn’t more affordable – just because a man with a stick says so.

In case you misunderstand me, I am not criticising the stick sellers. They do their job brilliantly and who doesn’t want to scratch their back now and again. However when the man with the stick comes knocking, know that you make him happy if you buy his stick. He is NOT invested in your happiness, in your fulfilment, in your well-being, in your work-life balance. He is only selling a bloody stick after all.

If you want to be happy, fulfilled and to see more of the people you love, don’t buy the bloody stick.

To be happy, fulfilled and to see more of the people you love you have to behave differently, define your purpose better, say no sometimes and go home early occasionally. Frankly it is not rocket (or stick) science.

Spend less time with the purveyors of sticks, more time with folks who matter.

Paul Gilbert

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