Wired and wonderful

Wired. Everything and everybody seems to be wired today. That’s what the researchers say, the TED Talk storytellers, Bruce Springsteen, advertisers, neurologists too. Brene Brown PhD LCSW says humans are “wired for connections, it’s in our biology. As infants our need for connection is about survival. As we grow older connection means feeling valued, accepted, worthy and affirmed. (To feel “disconnected” means feeling diminished, rejected, unworthy and reduced).

Because we’re wired for connections, the pandemic is so hard on us. We weren’t wired to look at screens, of being stuck inside only seeing our friends and family through zoom in forty minute installments. We need face to face communications in real time, in pre-pandemic times. Not just for hugs and holding our grandchildren and siblings and lifelong friends, but to enjoy our friends and family at dinner parties, sports events, or at the pub and restaurants.

To be wired means it’s who we are as human beings. All of us. It’s a way of saying it’s in our DNA regardless of skin color, ethnicity, religion. Advertisers too say we’re wired. We’re wired for sound. We’re wired for action. Being wired (a certain way) is supposedly who we are, how we are, what we need, how we’re born, how we live. “It’s just how we’re wired”.

For most of my working career, I was present, with my heart, mind and imagination placed firmly in my work, starting on time and leaving past 5:00. I was fortunate as were my employers. Work was where I made myself. It’s where I felt valued and largely accepted. As poet David Whyte writes in “Crossing the Unknown Sea” work might be a http://www.davidwhyte.compilgrimage, not just a paycheck. Work for me was a path through stages of understanding, for nearly fifty years, my work concentrated in marketing, in high tech and sciences-based corporations big and small. (I keep on coming back to my work experience in “offthehook” because work was what I was bred for, and it was a major part of my life for most of it). While I chose to work in technology start-ups, I’m not wired as an engineer or programmer or technology geek. Truth is I’m not terribly mechanical nor good at math as I imagine engineers to be. Family members and others think I was mechanical by virtue of working in computer companies. In fact, I’ve never been terribly good at using consumer technology devices or applications. I do enough to get by. Then again, I realize it’s what “energy” that’s put into the devices or the apps that truly matters. It’s the human spirit, the ideas, the creative concepts and knowledge that’s delivered, that’s always been my interest. That’s how I am wired. And it’s wonderful.

I worked in high tech for a number of reasons, I liked working in an entrepreneurial and innovative environment that was constantly changing; most of the projects I worked on were truly ahead of the curve. But I was more drawn to understanding how technology effects society and the individual rather than the technology itself.

The same situation applies today. The latest advancements in chips is not of interest, but innovation in rechargeable batteries to be used in electric vehicles (EV) is something to crow about because of how it may lead to a dramatic effect on EV adoption. Once that occurs, just imagine it’s effect on transportation, urban planning, and the reduction of CO 2.

I want to know whether technology enhances or destroys society.

Social media platforms give us access to an almost unlimited audience for our views, and the opportunity to organize. Black Lives Matter itself was started by three women messaging on Twitter and Facebook. But on the downside, sharing on social media platforms violates our privacy and gives harassers (followers) access to you. Technology innovation cuts both ways I guess.

There’s another way of thinking about being “wired” too. Neurologists like Dr. Michael Merzenich PhD, often called “the father of brain plasticity” recognized that “neurohttp://www.soft-wired.com-plasticity” or being “soft wired” changes across the lifespan. I like most of his book “Soft-Wired” because he described numerous cases of people – of all ages – who have consciously adopted routines, exercises, games and specialized brain and cognitive skills training to improve quality of life especially as we age. You can teach an old dog new tricks! And that’s pretty wonderful too.

Published by Richard Halpern

Retired (but busy) after a lengthy career in business marketing, communications and research. Worked at four start-ups and one turnaround. Now volunteer doing prospect research for a climate activity and social advocacy non profit, amongst other things.

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