Being always on is not necessarily a turn-off

Reading PRWeek's November WTF feature "The dangers of being always on" was fascinating on many levels.

The dangers of being always on: from PRWeek November 2013 issue
The dangers of being always on: from PRWeek November 2013 issue

I’m sure Ben Cohen is delighted that Jill is protecting and building his social media brand 24/7. It’s a jungle out there full of metaphorical (or perhaps not) predators and prey – one missed tweet and it could be one last dance for Ben.

However, one doesn’t know whether to be happy or sad for today’s social media savvy account executives who are indulging in activity that may, or may not, be bad for their long-term health and wellbeing.

In my mind work can be play and play can be work – it’s all about your perspective.

At first, I admit, it seems alarming that frequent tweeting can change the brain’s neural circuitry, but in reality it’s just normal brain functioning to evolve Darwinian-like to the changing environment – this amazing plasticity of the brain keeps us firmly at the top of the food chain.

I can’t help thinking that hypervigilance is something our ancestors in prehistoric times would have used just to survive in a world populated by hungry and vicious carnivores. A cautionary thought is that our ancestors had a much shorter life span then we do today.

As an executive coach I see different clients at various stages of their careers.

In our twenties, it’s all about establishing career, building valuable knowledge and developing sought-after skills. In our thirties we begin to achieve our ambitions, but in our forties we often start to seek more meaning and question the value of achievements.

Hypervigiliance is today an increasingly necessary behavioural trait in the life of a successful twenty-something PR account executive – don’t feel guilty, it’s normal (whatever normal is).

This article points out that it may well be a form of addiction, but few addictions are either 100 per cent positive or negative in their consequences. My guess is that in your twenties it would veer to the positive.

However, in your forties it would be a bit like doing a twice-weekly pub crawl, curry and nightclub with your mates – pretty sad really. Better they focus on meaning, purpose and world peace.

The world of work is rapidly evolving. Social media and the internet are a catalyst for change and the PR industry is at the forefront of this change.

Our brain is perfectly designed to adapt to change, even though it doesn’t always get it right first time.

My advice is to leave any feelings of guilt in the recycle bin. Carry on tweeting.

Noel Brady is an executive performance coach at Inside Out.

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