Are we too connected?
The answer depends on what exactly we are talking about. If we are talking about our plants and factories, the answer is probably no. Many facilities do not have sufficient connections to processes, machines, devices and instruments. Some facilities do. Some facilities may be suffering from information overload -- too much data to decipher and make good business decisions. It would be hard to argue that any facility is too connected, because being connected should mean acquiring all the right data and presenting it in a meaningful way.
What about ourselves? Are we too connected? The answer is most likely a resounding YES. As an engineer, I love technology, especially new technology. Much of today’s new technology focuses on connecting people and doing more with less. I used to love being one of the first to have that great new gizmo. Maybe I’m getting older. Maybe I’m getting wiser. Now I just don’t have the desire to be first. I want to make sure it works well before I use it because I just don’t have the time to debug it. Like many of you, I have a demanding job. It’s a job that I love, so I work even harder. I have a family that I just can’t seem to spend enough time with. I’m pulled in so many directions at the same time. Why?
I’m too connected – connected by technology, relentless technology. My PDA is always on. My computer is always nearby, waiting for me to check e-mail. I see it all around me. Members of the younger generation are caught in a text messaging frenzy. Teenagers are already too connected. What’s it going to be like 20 years from now? Always being connected is stressful. It’s unhealthy. It takes us away from life. It takes the joy out of each moment.
In our featured article this week, Jim Pinto takes a look at the flip-side of Techno-productivity. Technology has changed the dynamics of how we communicate, live and even think. It's made our lives easier in many ways. But it's also causing deeper problems, causing stress and anxiety for many people, introducing new disabilities and new realms of social misbehavior.
As my children (very quickly) get older, I begin to realize that my family and friends are truly the most important things in my life. I’ve recently had a couple of personal experiences that remind me just how fragile our lives are. My 4 year daughter just broke her elbow at a freak gymnastics accident, requiring surgery. One of my best friends just found out he has a rare form of cancer. An acquaintance’s 19 year old grandson, who recently overcame lymphoma, was just killed in car accident. Life is so fragile, but many of us take it for granted.
As the Holidays approach, take a step back, reflect and prioritize. What is most important in your life? It’s kind of a morbid thought, but how will people remember you when you’re gone? Will you be remembered as the person who always responded to e-mails at any time of the day? Or, will you be remembered as the good friend, good spouse, or good parent? Disconnect from technology, so you can reconnect with your life.
Being connected is an addiction. It’s hard to put it down and walk away. But like any other addiction, the first step to recovery is admitting the problem. I know I’m not alone. Admit it.
Enjoy the rest of this Automation Weekly!
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