I’m Not Texting. I’m Taking Notes.

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As I headed to the bathroom feeling on top of my advisory board game, Craig pulled me aside and said, “Listen, you’re doing great, but I want you to be super-successful here.”

Uh-oh.

“Many board members noticed that you were on your phone a lot,” he said. “If you can hold out on texting friends or checking your Twitter feed until the breaks, that would be great.”

Mission failed. Now I did feel like an idiot.

But I was also quite angry. The thing is, I hadn’t checked my Twitter feed for over two hours. I’d been taking notes.

…What really upset me at the meeting was the assumption that by pulling out my phone, I wasn’t paying attention. I’m a digital native. My friends and I have only known a world where phones are smart. My iPhone is a computer, and it’s natural to take notes on it.

I thought I was being diligent, yet they thought I was being rude. I even thought I was being efficient by quickly looking up something online and not missing a beat, and they thought I was playing video games. Clearly, my generation cannot assume the older generations know how we use technology.

 

A Short Guide To Work Phone Calls For People Who Grew Up Texting

A Short Guide To Work Phone Calls For People Who Grew Up Texting

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From an evolution perspective, human communication is optimized for face-to-face interaction–in small groups and in real time. Conversations are a delicately choreographed dance in which speakers gather constant feedback from listeners, and vice versa, about whether their points are getting through. The nonverbal cues are just as valuable as the verbal ones, if not more so.

So a phone call is already a significant deviation away from that ideal situation, and a text message falls short even more. In fact, the further you get from unmediated face-time, the more likely it becomes that a conversation will go off track. Missing somebody’s tone of voice can make it harder to detect jokes and sarcasm, no matter how many emojis you throw in…

“Side Hustle” as a Sign of the Apocalypse

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And WTF has happened to our culture when we just take it as fact that everyone needs to have multiple jobs and work as a cab driver and rent out every square inch of space in their apartment and be a task rabbit gopher who waits in line for tickets when they’re not walking dogs or temping and we all just chalk it up to “progress”??? In the old days, this meant your life was falling apart. Now it just means you’re part of “the sharing economy.”…

These tech companies position themselves as heroes. They talk about “changing the world” constantly. Yet all they do is churn out technology for rich, white dudes in their 20s/30s who live in big cities and want apps to fill in the blanks for what mommy used to do.

Mommy used to pick me up from soccer practice. A: Uber.

Mommy used to do my laundry. A: Flycleaners.

Mommy used to clean my room. A: Handy.

Mommy used to buy me groceries. A: Blue Apron.

Mommy used to cook me food. A: Seamless.

 

Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.

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…In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and valuable. Social media use is decidedly not rare or valuable. Any 16-year-old with a smartphone can invent a hashtag or repost a viral article. The idea that if you engage in enough of this low-value activity, it will somehow add up to something of high value in your career is the same dubious alchemy that forms the core of most snake oil and flimflam in business.

…A common response to my social media skepticism is the idea that using these services “can’t hurt.” In addition to honing skills and producing things that are valuable, my critics note, why not also expose yourself to the opportunities and connections that social media can generate? I have two objections to this line of thinking.

First, interesting opportunities and useful connections are not as scarce as social media proponents claim. In my own professional life, for example, as I improved my standing as an academic and a writer, I began receiving more interesting opportunities than I could handle. I currently have filters on my website aimed at reducing, not increasing, the number of offers and introductions I receive.

…My second objection concerns the idea that social media is harmless. Consider that the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated economy. Social media weakens this skill because it’s engineered to be addictive. The more you use social media in the way it’s designed to be used — persistently throughout your waking hours — the more your brain learns to crave a quick hit of stimulus at the slightest hint of boredom.

Stressed at Work? Tell It to Social Media

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Can social media thus shine a spotlight on workers’ stress levels? The authors of a new study analyzed a database of more than 2 billion tweets from almost 47 million individuals during an 18-month period. After filtering for only English-language tweets with the words “work” or “job” in the post, the authors were left with a sample of more than 8 million work-related tweets, or about 3.65 percent of all the tweets that were sent in the U.S. during that time.

…To examine weekly trends, the authors aggregated the text analysis results to correlate with the days of the week — all the Mondays together, all the Tuesdays together, and so forth. They could then calculate which days, on average, featured the most tweets about work-related stress.

Everybody really does hate Monday, it turns out. Tweets with mentions of work stress peaked at the beginning of the workweek and slowly declined through Thursday. On Friday, there was a much steeper drop-off, suggesting that people either are mentally ready to be out of the office or don’t see much point in discussing stressful work circumstances with the weekend rapidly approaching.

One would think the pattern would continue and that workers would largely feel stress-free when away from the office Saturday and Sunday. However, the analysis uncovered a different pattern: Negative emotions and stress-related comments don’t decrease steadily from Friday through the weekend, but actually begin to pick up Saturday and increase markedly on Sunday. Clearly, the “Sunday blues” are no myth — people begin fretting about their jobs as the weekend draws to a close and the stresses of Monday morning loom on the horizon.

We’re Taking a Break from Slack. Here’s Why

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Slack has been an indispensable tool. However, we noticed that more and more time was being diverted to Slack. It wasn’t just joking around, although there was plenty of that. We’d find ourselves spending 30 minutes in a spirited debate about a story we all seemed interested in, but then… no one would write something for the site. It was as if the Slack discussion had replaced the blogging process. Talking about a topic with our colleagues fulfilled the urge to publish.

The other recurring issue with Slack is that it’s just baseline distracting. People are always talking, often directly to you, and they usually expect an immediate response. Writers and editors need unbroken blocks of time to work. Slack makes that difficult.

This week, Motherboard is going cold turkey. That’s right—we’re cutting off Slack. Writers will talk directly to their editors. We’ll talk via face-to-face conversation, the phone, Google Hangouts, and Gchat. (Why is Gchat allowed?, you might ask. Because Gchat is optimized for one-on-one conversations, and doesn’t have persistent rooms.)

We’re hoping that cutting off Slack will give reporters a chance to refocus on writing stories and encourage more in-depth conversations with editors.