Being Human in the Robot Age: The Danger of Constant Distractions

being-human

We are surrounded by machines.

I’m using one to write this article. Before I finish, my watch will alert me that it’s time to stand. I will likely hear Aurora – the tone my smartphone plays when I receive a new email – more than a dozen times.

It is admittedly difficult to focus on the task at hand. All of the beeps, pings, and whistles blur together – and that’s a big problem. When it comes to occupying our attention, the machines are winning. They have taken over our lives in a way no episode of the Twilight Zone could have predicted.

We are living in the Robot Age, and the only thing it guarantees is distraction.

A time of awareness

I grew up in Ohio longer ago than I’d like to admit. Yet, I remember spending time with my father like it was yesterday. He was a big believer in the “teach a man to fish” mentality. He taught me early on how to mow the grass, change the oil, and work on a car.

No matter what new skill he was showing me, safety was sure to be a key component. He did much more than tell me to wear safety glasses or use gloves. He taught me to develop a true sense of safety awareness – to think ahead and make precautionary plans.

I’ve since realized how lucky I was to have those experiences. I’m shocked how many adults weren’t taught the basic safety skills you need for daily survival – how to safely use a knife, cook dinner, build a campfire, or even chop the wood required to make one.

I can only imagine how much more difficult learning these skills would be in today’s environment, where technology abounds. Don’t get me wrong, tech is amazing – but it keeps kids in their heads, not in their bodies. It makes them think they’re indestructible.

Sadly, they are not. Their physical actions have consequences. This is something we see far too frequently at job sites around the nation. Workers forget – if just for a moment – how important their actions are, until the unthinkable happens.

None of us are immune to danger.

Raised in a sea of distraction

If you’re looking for an article that bashes millennials, you’ve come to the wrong place. I’m not that guy. Millennials are critical to the success of C.A. Short Company and – more importantly – to the world.

I’m simply pointing out that an entire generation, including Gen Z and likely every other one that will follow, was raised in a sea of text messages, app notifications, and software updates.

This relationship with technology, which almost all of us now share, can quickly lead to distraction – at work, at home, and even school. In fact, the average college student uses their phone 11 times during class.

Things are just as bad in the office, where 54% of workers attribute their underperformance to workplace distraction. Technology is a major contributor, and it’s not all work-related. More than 75% of millennials / Gen Z say technology for personal activity is more distracting than work-related tools like email and chat.

The inescapable duality of technology

This article isn’t an indictment on technology either.

Technology plays a crucial role in our existence, and advances in the field of science have made our lives markedly better. While it can (and does) become distracting at times, harnessing the power of technology can lead to incredible opportunities.

Millennials know this – 90% believe technology creates more opportunity. While similar generations may not be as optimistic, they certainly understand the profound impact technology has in the business world. Nearly 80% of employees, regardless of age, say that keeping up with new technology has a direct impact on employability.

Technology is here to stay – with all of the accompanying beeps, chimes, and vibrations.

Creating a safer tomorrow

You may be asking, how do we go back to a simpler time – one with less technology?

That’s the wrong question. We don’t need to eliminate technology, we need to reduce distractions. We need to create a tomorrow that’s even safer than our relatively beep-free past. How do we accomplish this?

Millennials will play a significant role, and not just due to their sheer number. By 2025, they’ll make up 75% of the workforce. What I’m really referencing are their ideas, and chances are they’ll have a few about safety.

Back in 2014, the American Psychological Association found millennials rank personal safety as the leading cause of stress in the workplace. As a result, they’ve swung into action. More than any generation in history, they’re demanding improvements in safety.

All they need is a little help from their colleagues, managers, and employees. We owe it to them – to all of our workers, regardless of age – to create the safest possible work environment.

To create a safer environment for the future, we must first create a Culture of Safegagement today.

Gone are the days when your company could afford to focus on either safety or engagement alone. It is only through a combined emphasis that we can experience the kind of exponential growth required to deliver us from the Robot Age.

This is something we’re passionate about not just at C.A. Short Company, and we hope you are too.

I know your time is valuable, and that there are many ways you can spend it. So, I will leave you with a final thought – a message I hope rings clear through the Sea of Distraction.

We are human beings, and we can do this.

Together.

 Safegagement: Creating Safe Companies That Thrive

 

Topics: workplace safety, employee safety

Todd Shannon, VP of Sales and Marketing

About the Author
Todd Shannon, VP of Sales and Marketing

Todd Shannon has more than 25 years of sales and marketing leadership experience. Prior to joining the C.A. Short Company family, Todd helped Unilever, as well as other Fortune 500 companies, grow exponentially. His ability to develop processes and systems enveloped in a culture of empathy, compassion, and respect, makes him a perfect fit as the VP of Sales and Marketing. And his extensive experience in the consumer packaged goods sector uniquely positions him as an in-demand speaker and thought leader for all things safety, engagement, and recognition-related.

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