Staring at the computer screen with my eyes sagging and my neck aching, mid-afternoon, with the sun shining brightly outside, made me reflect on how many personal channels of communication we have to manage and maintain...and working simultaneously on multiple projects and with multiple teams of people just intensifies this sense of being informationally and emotionally challenged....
for example, in the general praxis world, just for one individual (graham), the list includes:
all the daily face to face interactions, meetings and conversations..
which are facilitated by and supplemented by
3 email accounts
1 land line
1 mobile phone
1 skype account
1 phone at work
Websites in which work I am doing features...
Post at home
Post at work
occasional work on film,TV, the radio or in recorded media
Plus all the travel and mobility, a weekly 400 mile commute, tickets and keeping track of timetables...
As a freelancer, I don't have the luxury of any administrative support for the core business of managing my work, rather, as well as doing the work I have to do all the admin myself...
But is the 'new work paradigm' that we are all now disembodied, nomadic, multiskilled multitaskers? Perhaps it's the case that the higher up the economic ladder one is, the less one has to be like that, as you get more admin support and can, if you choose, 'outsource' more of the mundane tasks involved in everyday life...and for those largely excluded from the networked world, all of this communicative decadence is a distraction from the business of economic survival... for those of us in the 'lumpen intelligentsia' it's a delicate tightrope between a 'play ethic' and a tyranny of information overload in which sorting the wheat from the chaff, the core focus from the distractions, is a daily struggle. As Gil Scott Heron said, the revolution will not be televised, and all this social media helps people construct identities in which they can easily become "a legend in their own minds..." Our identities (or at least the bits that we choose to share) are increasingly on 24-hour public display, networked globally through electronlc media...
is it any wonder that it all gets a bit overwhelming and stressful sometimes? I remember an edition of Newsnight when Jeremy Paxman referred in an offhand way to blogs as a form of obsessive compulsive disorder and perhaps he got it right...Certainly there's a need to prioritise which channels of communication to use for which purpose, and to have days when everything is just left switched off...perhaps we need a national Switch It Off day? I quite like the idea that social media enables us to become our own broadcasters and publicists, etc, but is anyone actually paying any attention? We still need high quality face to face communication. The networked and collaborative social and digital environments that we inhabit are very double-edged and may be as close to panopticons of spectacle and surveillance as they are liberating.