Sanjeev Kotnala: Life on a technology leash and being on call 24×7

19 Jul,2017

By Sanjeev Kotnala


I am sure we all vote YES for flexible timing. I also would bet most of us have experienced remote working. Yes, thrive on such a technology marvel and dream of the constraint-free life unveiling before the new generation. We are blinded by the advantages to miss the twin-edged swords of technology. It is relentlessly creating a new orthodox of information flooded, non-social, completely leashed and freely caged social animal.

All people above 45 years of age, remember the good ol’ days. Until 1994 and for a few more years, before mobile penetrated masses and became a necessity, life was a lot different. Home connections were limited. The PP number (where to contact in case of emergency) shared was mostly of the landlord or a friendly neighbourly uncle/aunt who tolerated such calls. However, once leaving office on Friday evening (yes, the five-day week had started) one was literally free until Monday office hours. There was the advantage of being unconnected as you went out of your way to connect with people who mattered in your life.

There were no phones to trace and no laptops to carry the library of files. Yes, no deep browsing of videos that hardly add anything to our lives. Yes, we engage friends we won’t tolerate in real life over long textual conversation over devices.

There are advantages that may over-ride the disadvantages. However, I have a question to ask. Do You Really Enjoy Being On The Leash, always remaining contactable and easily disturbed in line of duty?

Life in the 1980s and early ’90s was a lot more understated but definitely more fun.

I know it excites you. The confidence that someone and anyone can connect with you in milliseconds gives you a new high. Communication is so easy. You do not have to travel discuss. Visual and films fly unconnected and land in virtual cloud boxes to be retrieved later. You are updated by people you don’t know. Free services are available, and you feel a new freedom. You are unsure if you should believe what keeps dropping uninvited in your virtual boxes and connects.

You Are At The Verge Of Losing Complete Control On Your Privacy. And ‘you are loving it’, enjoying living in the pseudo world of continuity and conformity. The Leash knows it.

It is not that only people with Skype, iPhones and higher-end programmes or gadgets are connected for work. Basic work has minimal requirement. E-mails, Whatsapp and omnipresent Facebook are there to do the job. Video, sound, text and files move unrestricted.

We have so many contacts and friends, that we have stopped counting them. We mute the undesirable at the touch of a screen. We are lonelier than we ever were. It is an expected outcome of over dependence on binary coded unconnected fast communication. The joy of discovery or newness is a faked behavior selectively expressed in emoji’s.

Remote working from a non-central designated place (office) is known to spread happiness. It is researched to prove that it leads to increased productivity. It is enough to satiate our fantasy of control, ability to work from anywhere not necessarily anytime.

I am not sure if these fantasies have taken new shapes with deliberate enhanced un-connectivity guarantying mega breaths of complete existence.

The technical leash has of course helped you maintain work-life balance. You can comfortably be nearer to your support groups whenever desired. The technology comes to rescue whenever connectivity needs get fired.

Unfortunately, we have been misguided. Work-Life balance is not what technology can create. It is a result of your intent, capabilities, demand and confidence.

I someday want to re-construct the imagery I have lost. It is the time when the fields of information gigabytes were not irrigated by the easy availability, accessibility and affordability of data. Trust me, life was not overloaded by ‘nice to know’ but ‘need to know knowledge’.

Today, my family members and I are hungrily guzzling data. There is an upgraded 250GB of high-speed broadband data per month. Like everyone else we have been upgrading on consumption. We have moved from 25 GB a month to 50 GB to now 250 GB at an alarming pace. It is different that we use just 140 GB a month. Each family member uses 3 GB on their mobile and additionally a dongle with 6 GB data exists for traveling, not to mention the WiFi consumption at airports and hotels.

Today, life with a newly acquired GB-devouring habit and information parity is such a nuisance. The continued lease and consumption of such easily available data and entertainment are dumb-grading the instant gratification led new generation.

There is unsaid enhanced flexibility, informality and feeling of collaboration. Unknown set of people step-in to share information and solve issues. Your fingertips can easily trip a brand in the minefield of stretched consumer service benchmarks.

The whole system gears up to exert extra pressure for conformity, templates and performance. The IQ and EQ soon will be replaced by EIQ (Emotional Information Quotient) measured by data speed on the primary device of the person.

However, lip-sync is missing. There is talk of innovation and ideas. Everyone wants to be different. Meanwhile, the social fabric forces you to be a conformist. Keep sharing redundant, unsolicited, nice-to-know, fast forwarded information to make you stop thinking.

The LEASH is getting firmer and shorter. Desire to run away and fly into unknown get fueled with the same intensity, but it seems to be losing the battle. AI, the next frontier is going to box you. It will not only treat you as a binary number full with complex experiences giving rise to defined attitude and approaches. It is going to learn and emote with you. Mirror your slant and tonality. The power of Leash is multiplying. It amplifies my belief, that we are more controlled than controlling in our lives.. what is right.. you decide.


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