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One of the biggest challenges of the modern world is work-life balance. We all have gone through it. We all complain about it. But are we doing anything about it?

The challenges of work-life balance can become stressful. But with technology, things are becoming easier. There are apps automating jobs. Machines have made work easier and freed up personal time.

The goal of automation was to help people spend more leisure time at home and with friends. But is that really happening? Take a look around and you’ll see that not just adults, but even kids today are glued to gadgets. The parks are empty and the beaches aren’t filled. Instead, everyone is looking down on their screens, walking, talking, eating and even before sleeping.

Wasn’t the whole purpose of technology to enable us to socialize better, to make more friends, to interact more with people? And yet, we’re finding that more of us are going into bubbles and shells that are shutting us away from human interactions. We have friends – but online, we attend events – but through online RSVP, we share memories – but through Instagram, we speak to others – but via WhatsApp.  Even at the same table, we’re far removed from the other diners.

Re-learning the Value of Empathy

In a highly-connected world, we need to re-emphasize the need for empathy in our lives. The virtual disconnect is creating a barrier between humans. It doesn’t allow us to experience what someone else is going through. It amplifies anger and hate but does not do enough to share empathy.

We need to break out of the digital mould and connect with humans on a personal, one-on-one level to build empathy. One of the best ways to learn empathy is by volunteering to help underprivileged people. It is when you see the struggles and pain of people that you can imagine a life very different from yours.

Another thing essential to empathy is a diverse culture. The more homogenous your circle is, the more you can legitimize your feelings and discard that of those who don’t feel the same. It’s only when we remove the labels and treat each other as humans with flaws, emotions, and sufferings that we can empathize.

That is not to say that technology is bad. But it is up to us to regulate the usage. How many of us have started using technology as distractive tools for kids. The children of today aren’t born with a silver spoon but rather with a smartphone in their hands.

But, the smartphone can’t do what humans can do. It isn’t creative. It isn’t emotional. The value of empathy can only come through humans.

Empathy in your Career

It isn’t just at the personal level that you need empathy. This quality can be extremely beneficial for your career too. Empathy will be one of the crucial traits that will give you an advantage over others in the future of jobs.

When machines are automating routine work, humans with skills like empathy, EQ, problem-solving, etc., will be highly valued. An empathetic person is tuned in to the emotions of his team. He can understand and navigate better.

So, it’s time to put down the gadgets and reconnect with our basic values. It’s time for self-exploration.  It’s time to connect with those around us in a meaningful way.