Do you live your life inside a computer


"It's possible to spend your life inside a computer. Life is the people around you."Eric Schmidt, CEO Google

The first time I saw this quote, I thought it was innocuous.

Of course I see my life as the people around me.  Who doesn't?

Then I realized that I might have been taking the idea of life "inside a computer" too literally.

Maybe the idea is I shouldn't be on an electronic device when there are people  (who are the most interactive "devices" ever) sitting across the table from me.

Maybe that ping can wait.

What I need to do is to be present - to be fully in tune with what's happening around me.  I need to understand what's being said without simultaneously running a fact check on Google.

That's a realm of behavior that we have to evaluate and own up to.  If not, you may find tension in your friendships.   I frequently feel competitive with electronic devices in the hands of my friends, so I like to think that I'm sensitive to this subject - at least with friends.

However, the last time I read this quote, I applied it to the context of work.

I mean - during working hours my life can be inside my computer, can't it?  There isn't anything bad with THAT behavior is there?

Being connected is where I'm efficient and productive.

Working the electronic magic is how I move things from my "to do" list to your "to do" list.

I love getting into my bubble - to read and respond on my own time.

It's easy to fire off an email and not worry about tone. My opinions fly off my finger tips like rocks skipping across a pond.  Sometimes they bounce a couple of times.  Sometimes they cause a splash. But I get to sit on the side and just watch the ripples.  Generally, even when an email makes a big splash, calm eventually comes to the water's surface.

What I lose sight of is that the stone stays where it landed. I may not be able to see it any more, but it's there.

If I want to have an impact on people, I can't throw stones around keeping a safe distance from the splash.

I have to be present in the work environment too.

I can't sit by my computer and expect that relationships will magically happen through my emails. I have to pick up the phone and talk through issues. I have to walk down (or fly) to people's offices and wrestle with the problem. I have to listen without checking my iPhone for something that might be "more important."  I can't type on iphone and be fully participating in a conversation.

People don't want to be part of my multitasking and I shouldn't talk myself into believing that emails = productivity.

Perhaps the most productive thing I can do is unplug from a device and interact with a person.

Can you relate?