Meat Space, The Virtuals and Solutions

“Something in us is telling us we’re moving too fast, at a pace dictated by machines rather than by anything human, and that unless we take conscious measures, we’ll permanently be out of breath.” Pico Iyer

So, I’m stopped at the light separating Manhattan Beach from El Segundo heading north on Sepulveda Boulevard. Twilight has just made its muting appearance and the quintessential Southern California smog-blurred shroud actually provides definition to the dark colored craft making its descent into LAX some four miles away.

It was a moment of whoops, there it is and there it was.  For me, the moment represented the paradoxical nature of 21st century life.

Speed is “the” marketplace indispensable of today.  It’s the “out of the gate fast and break things along the way” mentality. It’s the not-so-subtle petition to “get it done now.”

Military strategists add credence to this approach.  Long ago, they discovered initial judgment calls are 70% correct.  On the battlefield, next week’s plan of perfection generates a 100% fatality rate today.

Speed is essential.  We are in a continual race to get ahead, keep up and never fall behind.  It never ends.  But, we are not machines.  However, in our adaptive quest, it seems some infectious strain, an inflexible miscegenation of sorts is transforming and corrupting the human condition to something less than human.

Now, you’re probably saying, “this guy is a regular party animal “funster”, sure to wow-the-crowd at the next barbecue or taffy-pull.”  Get me started on the Dewey Decimal System and its non-stop hilarity.

This piece is not an homage to Don Quixote or an expression of tacit support to some modern-day Luddite resurgence.  And, who’s to say the “Luddies” weren’t just misunderstood land reformers that got bad press.  You never know.

Recent studies bolster the perception that humanity adapts to environment.  Our thoughts, our beliefs are formed by our surroundings; and that’s what concerns me.

Here’s what I mean.  Years ago, pediatric experts concocted a technology that would do everything short of burping the baby.  For starters, the system rocked cradles and changed diapers. At the time, it was billed as the most exciting advancement in child-care development, freeing Mom from maternal chores.

If the old saw about the hand rocking the cradle ruling the world is true, then imagine the devastating consequence of this misguided delusion if it had gained universal acceptance. By that standard, Elliott, of Cable’s Mr. Robot, would be the heir-apparent, poster child of the millennia.

What makes this program so popular is viewer titillation.  I am as guilty of it as the next person.  It is similar to the powerful seduction of gawking at the grisly.  It attracts and repulses simultaneously.  What is perverse is the acceptance of the show as entertainment while, on the sidelines, vicariously witnessing and trumpeting the descent and decline of mankind.

For the viewer, in the grand scheme of things, the program rarely presents a counterbalance to the “gigaflop” conquest in the long run at the bequest of “short term cool.”

It’s a different take on bread and circuses with gigabytes.

Think that’s over the top?  As opposed to virtual reality inhabited by “Geekdom”, Cyberpunk has devised an interesting term for humanity: “Meatspace.”

Talk about the intentional capitulation to the intangible. The word, “quisling” comes to mind.

I’m over 50 and still cling to the belief that nothing takes the place of the human touch.  Playing with my Grandson, laughing with my daughters, getting together with friends and holding hands with my wife are moments so far beyond bandwidth envy.

Call me crazy but I just don’t get the same “warm and fuzzies” while tapping away on my Toshiba desktop.

Today, I paid the cable bill but had some questions regarding a charge. So, while waiting to be connected to a service rep, a prompt interrupted the transfer stating that a $5.00 surcharge would be added to my next statement for the crime of speaking to an operator.

It’s bad enough to be forced blindly to accepting a prerecorded digital ultimatum and then penalized for speaking to a programmed human; that is contemptible.

A Future Foundation study reveals that the unhappiest people in the world are those spending much of their time on Social Media. This affects their career, their self-image, mood and even their energy.  In fact, the survey points out that many of them wish they resembled their online profile.

Their personal web portrait is so BS top-heavy that they can’t live up to their own fabrication.  However, the pretense is met with overwhelming approval by like-minded disciples that perpetuate the fraud.

Then somehow, the dreaded pull of “Meatspace” reality seeps through the self-spawned bogus curtain, forcing the “virtual” to accept reluctantly the Hollywood adage:  “Never believe your own publicity.”

Call it “The Conceit of Self-Doubt.”

The old line about meeting the enemy and it’s us takes on greater dimension with every passing day.

And then, in the quest for higher profit margins, business is complicit in diminishing the value of the human condition by creating customer incentives for passively accepting preset dictates devoid of actual free choice.

So, what do you do?  Author/Businessman Max de Pree said it best, “We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.”

Today, more than ever before, information is an essential key to success.  Forget bitcoin.  Information is the universal currency. We need what we need when we need it: stat.  But, as much as possible, avoid the distraction of being side-tracked into self-revelation schemes.

It’s easy to zone out while online.  Before that awareness kicks in, we have submitted to an incidental craving as a momentary reprieve from an essential assignment while quickly and unknowingly relinquishing personal revelations and intelligence.

From now on,  I won’t respond to those supplemental attention-grabbing, beguiling and bordering-on-the-bizarre headlines located at the bottom of an article or website such as, “The Billionaire’s Secrets to Staying Rich”, “Woman with 3 Boobs Reveals Cancer Cure.”  You get the idea. These are “gotchas.”

Anybody know how to get rid of “Ad Choice” pop ups?  Please let me know.

I’m avoiding Facebook as much as possible and staying away from the rating of posts or emails. Oh, and I’m never revealing my location.  I’m even careful of those I follow.

Linked in, that’s a whole different story. It’s professional.

Recently, I checked online the cost of the train from London to Paris.  Now, I’m infested with online billboard incursions related to it.  From now on, I’ll call.

It reminds me of when I stopped at the light separating Manhattan Beach from El Segundo while heading north on Sepulveda Boulevard.  Off in the distance was the silhouette of a plane landing at LAX.

I see that moment now as analogous to a demarcation line; maintaining the  essence of humanity as we know it as opposed to willingly surrendering it all to the non-real as it makes its final approach.

 

Bilingual and Lost in Translation

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.”  T. S. Elliot

Years ago, my then Father-in-Law came to visit. The man was a piece of work with a fabulous personality. Besides English, he had mastered Italian and Japanese languages almost fluently; but…

My wife and I took him to a sushi restaurant where he began immediately conversing and flirting with the female servers in their native tongue. They got a real kick out him.  Now, I know enough of the language to be considered ‘legally stupid’ but got the gist of what he was saying while the ladies thought he was hilarious.

As we were leaving, our server came over to thank me and mentioned that along with my father-in-law’s outgoing and entertaining delivery, the element that provided the biggest laugh was his wording; he spoke in a Japanese dialect more relevant to some long ago, by-gone era.  An example: instead of saying “car”, he used a dated phrase that described “a motorized wagon”; a term that applied in the early 20th century

And, that’s what happens to many of us.  While attempting to forge ahead, we inadvertently migrate to a universe of our own making that actually perverts original aspiration. The outcome: we unwittingly become advocates of retreat rather than agents for our own progress.

Let me explain.

Every day, we hear how our military is being gutted and down-sized.  Many of these veterans have spent most of their adult lives protecting us from harm.

Many vets have specialized skills and, compared to their overseas counterparts, American forces are trained to improvise and ‘think on their feet.’

That’s a gift.  It is also a curse.

Because of cutbacks, many vets are confronted with an unaccustomed and startling challenge; dealing with the private sector workplace.

It’s ironic.  Men and women dedicate their lives to defending the civilian home-front and, by doing so, become detached from the assignment they are empowered to protect.

They don’t know how to speak “civilian-ese.” They are lost in translation. They are not bilingual.  They are unprepared in explaining the codes of military craft into the language of the civilian marketplace.

When confronted by HR and decision makers, their in-person responses founder, giving the appearance of uncertainty and inexperience; a mischaracterization so distant from the actual.

The military life demands completion of duty, whatever the task.   But, in private sector interview situations, where a vet is questioned regarding their service career, job description and accomplishments, the usual reply is “I can do everything.” And, although that’s correct, it’s not real.

Although it is an honest response, it is disregarded because it is misinterpreted.  Unknowingly, the vet has communicated to the interviewer that they are desperate for a job and will accept any available employment opportunity.  Now, that might be true, but that’s not the intent.

Veterans don’t speak Bi-lingual.  The experience is there but the defining mechanism is outdated.

It’s a different take on the old saw from Country comedienne Minnie Pearl who joked: “When they were handing out looks, I thought they said books, so I said, ‘I’ll take a funny one.’”

We are over the age of 50 and it’s easy to rely on yesterday’s descriptions. It got us to where we are.  That’s the good news.  The bad news? It got us to where we are.

Some of us are more Social Media aware than others.  I fall in the latter category.  Sure, I use LinkedIn, too old for Instagram and do little FB (I don’t really care that someone experienced a life-changing moment and felt compelled, for the betterment of mankind, to post a picture of a duck seen on the way to West Covina-call me heartless, I live in shame. Got it).

In the past, I have dismissed its importance, delayed its integration and, most likely and to my detriment, have arrested   the progress of my career.

OK, so I’m slow on the uptake.

That’s why recently, I participated in a webinar dedicated to Social Media marketing.

I really learned a lot.  What I took away from the online course was that not much has changed.  Now, hold on.  Social Media is a dynamic and its influence has surpassed Radio/TV/Cable and print and amazingly, it’s still in its toddler stage.  The delivery reach and measurement conversion are mind-boggling but the objectives remain the same.

What I got out of the webinar was use of language.  I believe in Relationship Selling. I am a people person who enjoys dealing with the people I deal with. In fact, I consider many of my clients, friends.  I keep in touch, send out or email news and trends applicable to their business or personal interests. Some refer to it as Business Retention.

What I learned about Social Media is that it has taken quantum leaps compared to the old way of doing things. Retention is now referred to as Engagement and After Sale and the process is more effective and light years ahead of the way things used to be.

There is so much more to Social Media, but this is not the forum for further comparisons.

The point: I learned to speak Bilingual. A connection was made. It was a crucible moment. I was able to incorporate the known with the newly learned. It now made sense and, the process was no longer lost in translation.

Absorbed in the pursuit of success can create unanticipated complications. A real challenge occurs when, so absorbed in the quest to succeed, we lose sight of original intent. The purpose transforms into something peripheral.

What happens? Investment supplants Creation. Don’t misunderstand.  Of course, it is vitally important to allot time for concepts to evolve, progress and bring to fruition. That’s not the point.

Unfortunately, the mechanics of Investment can neutralize the creative process.

Before long, it becomes easy to question initial aspirations and wonder how and when did things spin so out of control.  Priorities get misplaced in a Bilingual world.

Think that’s ridiculous?  Consider how many 50 Plus Adults are so disenchanted, dissatisfied.  They want a new start.  The numbers are enormous.

And, contrary to urban legend, this upheaval is negatively impacting the Marketplace.  Today, we hear so much about   Millenials.  As smart and savvy as they are, many enterprises are discovering they can’t afford to lose the 50 Plus Adult.

Why?  Experience. Work and Social Skills. Contacts and that’s just for starters. Replacing an experienced worker regardless of previous compensation is a drain on the bottom line.

Research shows that replacing an experienced employee earning- say, $70,000 per annum costs a company 3 times that amount or $210, 000 in replacement costs.

So many executives in the corporate world become so fixated on reducing expenditures, that they actually kill the golden goose that depresses the bottom line.

The Solution: Keep an experienced worker but place them in a different capacity. Hire them as a consultant to their former employer, allowing them to pursue other goals while providing needed input, experience, know-how, contacts and training to the organization.

It is another “take” on Bilingual.  The consultant speaks the language of experience and know-how and acts as corporate cultural bridge.  The consultant gets to pursue their ambitions while the organization benefits with smoother transitions diminishing the likelihood of things getting lost in translation.

It becomes a win-win situation.

And, unlike my ex-father-in-law’s experience, everyone is on the same page.  And, that’s no laughing matter