Sometime during my Holiday Season musings, I came across two posts from the editors at LinkedIn News. Since I detected no tongues in cheeks, I took them to be evidence of the extent to which we’ve become purely reactive; that is, in the absence of critical thinking, questioning, and anticipation, we observe and react. That’s all. Everything is new and novel to us, a constant process of discovery and re-discovery because we don’t think, we don’t study history, and we’d choose not to remember it if we did.
A rule of thumb for sharing information, in writing or in formal presentations, used to be, “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you told them.” That’s all changed. As we’ve deliberately become more unknowing, as we’ve deliberately started thinking less critically, and as we’ve deliberately resigned ourselves to asking fewer and fewer questions, the new rule of thumb is this: “Tell them what they already know, should know, or should have been able to know. Tell them again. Then tell them again.”
In a post called, “Why work won’t ‘return to normal’”, we find this keen observation:
After the turmoil of the pandemic, 2022 was supposed to be the year that work returned to normal. That didn’t happen … because so few workers want to go back to the old ways. They expressed their dissatisfaction with pre-pandemic norms by quitting jobs in historic numbers, while others tried to improve their current jobs by striking and unionizing.
Let’s see. People have been working largely the same way — reporting to a place other than home in which to toil — for 262 years (give or take), and we’re surprised that with the forced alternative of a global pandemic people don’t want to go back to being historical artifacts.
We’ll lower the bar on this one and not even suggest the irony in the fact that this radical change in employment circumstances was the result of a political/economic shutdown that never should have happened.
Let’s put on our surprised faces and soldier on, shall we?
Following that, in this post from the Dots? What Dots? Department — “Are big corporate HQs fading away?” — we find this abject failure of connection:
As companies grow more accustomed to remote and hybrid work, many are also beginning to say farewell to large, sprawling offices … [as] companies reach their lease renewal dates, many are considering subletting their vacant space … this shift could send office real estate value tumbling by as much as $450 billion. This could hurt urban economies that depend on office work for jobs and tax revenue.
As companies grow more accustomed to remote and hybrid work? Is it possible to grow more accustomed to something that’s being forced on you, especially if it’s uncomfortable or threatens your ability to survive? That’s like saying, “As people grow more accustomed to waterboarding ….” What?! Companies aren’t growing more accustomed to anything, except, perhaps, the fact that folks aren’t eager to run back to the grind of business as usual, at least not in pre-pandemic numbers.
Unless they need the real estate losses as tax write-offs, they have alternate revenue streams to cover the cost of empty buildings, they’re doing their parts to contribute to urban decay, or they’re cognitively ill-equipped to be in business, companies don’t have a choice but to sell or sublease space. That’s not rocket science. It’s a combination of simple math, practicality, and reality. (Oh, no! Not that!)
The Moral of the Story
Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” He’s right, of course. But we’re making it harder than it has to be.
Maybe we refrain from thinking because we’re given so much to think about. If that’s true (I believe it is), what would happen if we didn’t think about everything we’re given to think about? Not all the information that bombards us every day is worthy of our consideration. Not all of it is worthy of believing. And most of it is worthy of questioning.
As Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote in “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”, in a much simpler day and time, “People say believe half of what you see, son, and none of what you hear.”
If we take their advice, maybe stating the obvious won’t have to be the new normal.