Information Age: Distraction and Flux

The title for February’s issue for Fast Company is “Generation Flux.”

In summary the article speaks of how fast our economy and culture is changing (i.e. rise and fall of businesses, unpredictability of competition, uncertainty about… well, everything) and what it will take for businesses and their employees to succeed. The article details a few main points but in essence, the take-away for me is that to succeed, we need to adapt. The ability for one to adapt to constant flux will determine whether s/he is part of the Generation Flux.

As someone who has been interested in globalization’s impact on identity for several years, I reflected on the psychological ramifications and relational impact that this form of accelerated adaptation may have on us. On the one hand, being a part of Generation Flux implies a pseudo-Buddhist approach to life (i.e. do your best but be unattached to outcome because things change) which can be liberating. There is an excitement when one panders the plethora of possibilities that can happen tomorrow, or perhaps even, in the next hour. Uncertainty and flux adds novelty to everyday life. On the other hand, how will being a survivor of Generation Flux impact one’s ability to plan and commit? What role does intention have when one is in flux?

Although this article speaks specifically about economy, business, and culture, given what we know about systems theory, it is safe to presume that this type of adaptation will overflow into other areas of our lives. If we must survive by constantly adjusting, changing, and dealing with the reality that an ingenious concept today may be obsolete tomorrow, how will that impact our ability to sustain commitments to our families, partners, and friends? If I work at a firm where I am expected to be available to address issues that arise but I cannot predict what they are, I may be called upon to leave town for an unknown amount of time which means I will be apart from my family and friends. I will not have my routine. In fact, uncertainty and doubt becomes my routine. Unless my family and partner are a part of the Generation Flux themselves, this may cause problems in relationships. How do we maintain intimacy and commitments when we are a part of this flux?

Noted quotes:

“There are some times,” Patil explains, “when you can predict weather well for the next 15 days. Other times, you can only really forecast a couple of days. Sometimes you can’t predict the next two hours.” – DJ Patil

The pace of change in our economy and our culture is accelerating–fueled by global adoption of social, mobile, and other new technologies–and our visibility about the future is declining. – Robert Safian

“It’s come to technology first, but it will reach every industry. You’re going to have businesses rise and fall faster than ever.” – Pete Cashmore

“In an increasingly turbulent and interconnected world, ambiguity is rising to unprecedented levels. That’s something our current systems can’t handle.” – Dev Patnaik

“So many people tell me, ‘I don’t know what you do,'” Kumra says. It’s an admission echoed by many in Generation Flux, but it doesn’t bother her at all. “I’m a collection of many things. I’m not one thing.”

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