As originally published by David Sable on Linkedin.
Sadly, the DIGIBABBLE crowd is at it again. The one-note pundits, with nothing new to say, are predicting a world that will only be Tech or Digital. Solutions will be “Big Data” and AI-based only—and nothing else will matter.
Nothing could be further from the truth. And nothing will tank your business as quickly as listening to that endless and meaningless drivel.
Digital is Everything. Get over it. Just about all that we do is linked, in some way, to a digital source/platform/system. And that, by the way, includes a printed newspaper, magazine or book (if you still read any—and it seems that many more are), the TV shows you watch, and the coffee you once bought from the food cart that you paid for through Square or Venmo.
But not Everything is Digital. Many are lost without their live sports, meals in restaurants, Broadway shows, concerts, school…and yes, all of these non-digital experiences are linked to some digital enablement or other. KNEE JERK ALERT.
Digital is Everything…But not Everything is Digital—so I have been writing and speaking about for years, but never has the phrase been truer—and never has the distinction been more important to our future.
To begin with, right now many of the most important people in the world are the people we have tended to ignore. They are the nameless people delivering our food, packing the boxes we order from Amazon, working the fields, and in other ways, keeping us and our economy going.
Sadly, we have allowed an elite, digital-world lexicon, the Gig Economy, to denote the status of people who have no social safety net, no ability to save, and who must to work endless hours just to have a second and often third gig.
Any number of Sci-Fi Apocalyptic-themed movies feature the underground/ behind-the-scenes/rarely seen community of people who keep it all going for the ones on top. The Utopians. In fact, Kara Swisher wrote about this in her latest New York Times column.
Obviously, the incredible healthcare workers who man the front lines daily…with limited supplies, conflicting information, no rest and often little reward, are the Superheroes of our time. The doctors, nurses, aides, technicians, and maintenance crews…sometimes working double shifts…wearing masks that have been washed and recycled, garbage bags over their clothes when proper gear runs out…improvising and rigging and concocting because all the tech if it isn’t there for the people to use.
Another subset of heroes: Parents, at home, sometimes single, working (or not), lacking the devices to share across the family for school, work and just plain sanity…who are creating games, cooking and baking, building all kinds of fantastic projects for their children to partake, maintaining stability in an unstable time.
And, of course, the alone and lonely—the former…those that have, too late, discovered that all the likes, digital social connections and followed influencers amount to nothing. And the latter…those elderly people who are without anything at all. Both the alone and lonely, share the need for common human warmth, a virtual, but no less real hug…both missing human company, someone to bring them their medicine, or a home baked cookie. These folks are our most vulnerable—they are the largest segment of the stricken population to die…and they die alone.
And there is so much more to delve into about the ways our lives have changed in recent months. Funerals and visitations by ZOOM (I use the term generically); great, yet simple acts of kindness everywhere; sharing a drink with a friend remotely and on and on.
I have written about the danger of returning to any kind of normal…new or otherwise…Technology Meeting Faith…and Ingenuity vs. Innovation. Yet, what struck me as I pondered those awaiting the Tech Messiah was the notion of Tech and Technique….and the primal truth that one without the other is doomed.
As I began, “Digital Is Everything…But Not Everything Is Digital.”
All Tech, since the beginnings of humankind, has progressed because of Technique…because we learned how to use the Tech, mold it, evolve it, pivot it…make it transparent, and then, most importantly shared it, and then repeated the process…Technique.
From fashioning spear tips to evolving how we share stories (think cave walls to TikTok), from the first wheel to space exploration, tech advanced because of people and their uses and adaptations of it—not because of the Tech itself.
More importantly when the Tech fails, and it always does in some way or another, or when its limitations become apparent, it is human ingenuity, moxie, perseverance that gets us through. And while I like to reference apocalyptic-themed movies where this is usually the overarching theme, you need look no further than your own locked-down home to see the proof.
How lucky we are to have ZOOM, how blessed we are to have digital connectivity that allows us to really connect. And how fortunate we are that we have not lost our humanity…our primal spirit, because when all else is gone, that is our core. Listen:
“Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation profoundly affecting the roots of human spirit”—Ansel Adams
And there you have it.
If nothing else, let’s emerge from The Plague of 2020 with an optimism based on our humanity and indomitable spirit. If we discount ourselves or throw it away, thinking salvation will come from elsewhere, we have already lost.
See you on ZOOM!!! Stay safe and Stay well.