TED Circles hosted by WiTT: Consumption, what’s your function?

On March 16th WiTT held thesecond gathering of our members-only TED Circle.  TED Circles is a community of small groups that discuss big ideas. We will host a TED Circles talk and discussion every other month in 2021. 

The March event featured Kathryn Bouskill’s TEDxManhattanBeach talk, “The unforeseen consequences of a fast-paced world.”

Here are some of our key takeaways

  • The talk suggested that our lives are getting faster and faster; that people prefer to burn out rather than rust out (i.e., become obsolete) but that we are not designed to cope with this pace.We are stone-agers in the fast lane! The group felt that they were probably more “burn out” than “rust out” types, although it was also suggested that “rust out” was not the antithesis of “burn out.
  • Some members of our group have deliberately stopped pushing themselves to go everfaster in a 24/7 way.  Initially they had experienced significant withdrawal symptoms, panic/anxiety, etc. but t now adapted to a slower pace where they are more in control and this is a very welcome change.
  • The suggestion that, because of this speeding up of our lives, we are delegating some of our decisions to AI was felt to be worrying, particularly from an ethics point of view.The potential loss of control that results was felt to be potentially dangerous.
  • Many agreed that the time we had gained in the pandemic was not being well used.We simply spend more time at the computer or on our phones.  The reasons for this ranged from a sense of guilt to a sense of vulnerability.  Some are worried that they might miss out or be forgotten.
  • Speed makes us feel both vulnerable and on top of the world – it is very addictive. The constant checking of emails and other messages becomes an obsession and leads to information overload. We need to find ways to break that cycle and give ourselves time to think and reflect.
  • The talk suggested that we are designed to focus on one task and do it well as opposed to trying to do multiple things at once. The group felt that information overload makes it difficult to focus.
  • Many are proud of being busy!It can be a badge of honour in corporate life. One participant recommended Tony Crabbe’s book, “Busy.”
  • The group agreed it was important to find time to do other things such as yoga, walking the dog, etc.However, protecting the time to do these things can be hard.
  • It was noted that the pandemic had encouraged firms to focus on employee well-being, allowing more flexibility in working patterns. This is very positive, particularly if the pandemic and its effects continue much further into the future.
  • Participants were asked to name activities or aspects of life that they like to see go faster or slower.Faster: equality; the end of lock-down; time when we can travel again; time when we can go out to restaurants, etc.  Slower: one member wanted her children to slow down!  Some also wanted holidays to go slowly once they had arrived.  One person mentioned that she wanted the end of books to come more slowly.
  • Much of what we discussed boiled down to finding ways to take control of your time.Making time to do new things, such as painting.  Taking yourself into a new zone.
  • We concluded by agreeing that pace or speed is neither good nor bad in and of itself.You need to take a step back and take decisions as to when to slow down or speed up.  It is about self-reflection and control.

Other books that were recommended during our session included:

Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse

Flow: The Psychology of Happiness, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman  (also, The World is Flat)

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport