Out of Touch
Here’s a typical day in the life of an office worker about twenty years ago, drive to work, settle at the desk and take out the diary for the day and just move on with things. At lunchtime, take a break with Boss or colleagues, or if the home is close by pop in there for lunch and head back home to leave work at sharp 5pm. Things started to change when the mobile phone came in. Since only the bosses could afford that luxury, then started making more phone calls and check ups after hours. When mobile connectivity became more affordable, the bosses and workers engaged in more conversations and well it was the start of a 24-hour working culture, because very soon emails on your fingertips followed.
But in all this life otherwise carried out very normal and people still switched off from work or unnecessary social chat. This bubble burst as soon as Facebook came to life in 2004. While it might have taken time to hit Africa and when the Internet accessibility improved, people were corrupted, especially because of the smart phones and tablets, Facebook followed you everywhere. With WhatsApp the Blackberry Messenger fever quickly wore off and soon everyone was chatting, chatting and chatting.
We were now living in a culture that was abnormally social because until this time “social” meant lunches, dinners and family gatherings. Now the scene was taken over with first a lot of showing off and this happened through photos, befriending or unfriending, commenting and stating opinions. Luckily while the showing off has slowed down considerably, there is an addiction with a few to keep an eye on other people and draw conclusions or maintain a sort of inspector update on their activities yet they don’t even talk to each other face to face.
Thus, a typical office worker’s day has now become, wake up with the smart phone alarm clock, listen to music on the tablet, keep checking the phone for loved, work messages, emails and get into the car, still checking messages, get to the work desk, charge the phone and keep checking. Yes keep checking, turn on the desktop and before going to the company software or emails, log on to Facebook incase you missed some breaking friend or family news. Then every chance you get if you are lucky and have access to the Internet on your desktop the obsession remains. If you are not allowed internet access then you have made sure you have bought the best bundle for your phone and continue to check, comment, like, look and spy.
Most western countries don’t allow the mobile phone to remain on and are making policies on the use of Internet and how it can be productive instead of distracting workers; Kenya has a long way to go. Here social media is considered almost taboo and those who are on it regularly are called “losers, desperate, lonely” behind their backs. It is unfortunate that social media can be used positively for both personal and most definitely professional uses.
Social media should not be banned from the workplace or restricted, it has become a part of our lives whether we like it or not. You need to figure out how to use it productively and keep the balance sheet going, targets met and hey, it can be an excellent way of team building and opening up the staff to new possibilities.