Guiding Light: Staying human in an increasingly digital world

We’re all in the same boat, struggling to stay human while we grapple with increasing automation and tech. It is our empathy that is the best antidote to numbing in a world full of bits and bytes.

Ritesh AswaneyUpdated: Saturday, June 25, 2022, 01:17 AM IST
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You shuffle out of your chair, drained, after yet another day of slaving in front of the screen. With remote working, the meetings are non-stop, robbing us of even those little moments of relief that came in the way of water cooler conversations. In addition, for those of us who work with deep tech, interacting with machines in an input/out type transactional relationship also impacts our natural human empathy. Add to that cut-throat competition, and what you have is a toxic mixture of outcome-driven conversations, with little or no attention to how or why they are being achieved.

It’s not all dark clouds, of course; technologies like Zoom have helped us stay human even in these remote times. The growth and adoption of virtual attendance has made it possible to attend meetings, events and even educational courses that wouldn’t have been possible in person. What used to be an array of blank grids staring back at you is becoming a vivid panel of beaming faces, with more and more people choosing to turn on video and bring more of themselves into the virtual space that we share. So much so that Zoom fatigue is a thing now, as we cope with this newly-curated identity which spans our home and work lives, all at once.

The ‘PJ’ syndrome, where you might have a really professional looking shirt or top paired with pyjamas, is a physical manifestation of how selectively we choose to look at ourselves. Caring about appearance, but not so much what isn’t visible to the external world, cannot be healthy. This is a reminder to embrace our whole self, rather than just the parts that we, or worse still, others like, whilst ignoring our shadow selves, which is often reduced to a repressed bundle of emotions

We’re all in the same boat, struggling to stay human while we grapple with increasing automation and tech. Tech by itself isn’t good or bad, it’s just an enabler. But it’s really up to us to be mindful and purposeful in the way that we connect with and communicate with our families and our colleagues. So the next time you jump on to a Zoom, spend a minute or two to check in with everyone about how they’re feeling, and if you can spot someone who’s flagging then perhaps offer to connect over a virtual coffee, and if it’s you that needs help, then be authentic to yourself and ask for it. For it is our empathy that is the best antidote to numbing in a world full of bits and bytes.

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