New! Lead Op-Ed in The New York Times on the Ethics of Robot Caregiving

A Medley of Thoughts on … Slower Living

A New York Times piece on the toll that frenetic texting is having on teens’ sleep patterns, family lives and times for quiet, connected thinking.

A Wall Street Journal blog by a commuter who stopped in a busy train station to help an unconscious woman whose plight was ignored by hurried passersby.

A Boston Globe column that I’m researching on companies cracking down on texting/cell phoning drivers who madly multitask their way down our highways.

What do these articles and issues have in common? Hurry Sickness, as I’ve written before, corrodes time for daydreaming, for serendipitous togetherness, for undivided attention. If members of our society can’t pause to help a (literally) fallen woman, or make it a priority to look one another in the eye rather nurture a preference for trading Tweets, then we risk far more than stress-related health disorders. We risk a crumbling in the fabric of our society.

In my upcoming May 30 Balancing Acts column on distracting driving, I will recount how a big global engineering firm – populated by on-call, blackberry-addicted employees – banned all phoning and texting while driving, yet found a year later that almost all of its workforce reported no drop in productivity.

Stunning. And yet logical. With a little time management, calls didn’t require instant responses most of the time. (In fact, many hurried calls made while multitasking result in mistakes that take another call to rectify.) As well, the firm’s employees regained something precious – time to mediate on work (and life) problems, rather than simply knee-jerk reacting. Perhaps companies are tightening such policies to avoid litigation in the event of accidents, but whatever their motivation, the outcome may be a helpful nudge to employees to stop and think about the costs of constant lives of hurry. 

Isn’t it amazing that we need a near-death threat before we rethink the quality of our lives?

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  1. May 26, 200910:00 pm