Hi, I’m Carolyn.
I am a CyberPsychologist.
When I first tell people what this means, they often start to tell me about the state of technology use amongst the young. Or they tell me about their own gadget use. The phrase that often peppers this conversation is ‘I know it’s bad but…’ before they launch into a confessional about the time they spend on their devices and why, to try ‘justify’ what they perceive as undesirable tech or gadget use.
I haven’t always been a psychologist. I spent the first 15 years of my career in Corporate Grocery Marketing. I was by nature ambitious, determined, resilient and hard-working. I had the ‘dream life’ – doing big corporate marketing, living in London, going out with friends and travelling. Working hard, playing hard. Deadlines, long hours and stress come as standard in this world – as it does in many fast-paced careers – fighting fires and bouncing from one shortened deadline to the next. I spent many a late night and early morning juggling the relentless demands of the job. My mother used to tell me that I was burning the candle at both ends. I proudly joked, ‘nope, I’m throwing the whole candle into the fire’… I cannot recall at what point I started needing more and more cups of coffee and energy drinks to keep up… but at some point, in my late 30’s, I just ran out… of everything.
Managers who tend to do lip-service to ‘work-life balance’ at interviews, promoting a company’s progressive work policies, can be the very ones whose on-the-job narratives seem most likely to expect longer hours, more dedication to the job, implied compulsory team evenings out and ‘first your career, then your life’ subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) conversations. I distinctly remember getting a telling-off for missing a sales and marketing dinner because it fell on the same night as the one evening a week I left at 6pm, rather than 8pm, to go play tennis. I’d mistakenly mentioned to a colleague, (who subsequently told my boss) that I’d said I ‘needed more of a work-life balance’ – and was told-off for not being more committed to my career.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. I knew something was wrong but hadn’t realised my body was progressively shutting down. I had lost my ability to remember large portions of each day, and I was unable to process information in an emotionally rational way. Running beyond empty, something had to be done – so my corporate marketing career and I (gracefully) parted ways.
So, I went back to Uni to study Psychology, and in particular CyberPsychology. Mostly, I wanted to understand what part technology played in mitigating my longer working hours and subsequent burnout. All my investigation and research, therefore, comes from a place of trying to understand how the use of tech and gadgets has changed how we do work in this digital knowledge-based working age, how we live and play and how we separate out and mingle these ‘life-realms’. This website is one of the products of that investigation and research.
My aim in all the research, consulting, talks, blogs, workshops articles, vlogs and conversations, is to share my knowledge (hopefully in a non-patronising way) so you can make your own free-will choices about how you use your home and work-based gadgets and apps, both during and after working hours. Because it is in consciously making both strategic and tactical choices, every day, that gain us greater control of our technology use – whatever that looks for us as individuals. If that choice is to look at work emails at 11pm, then give yourself permission to do so, without having to justify to both you and others by declaring our ‘naughty’ or ‘cheating’ tech use secrets.
What I always hope to do, is give you the insights and tools that help you to free yourself from the bonds of guilt, and availability expectation that often hold us in a cycle we can’t seem to break away from. I am hoping this will give you the ability, the mindset and the permission to get back in control of the decisions you make about your work and home technology use to be able to use gadgets and technology in a more proactive and mindful way.
These are revolutionary times. Every revolution is often simultaneously exciting and scary. But, as a friend once told me, ‘The only way out is through’. So, through we must go.
Hopefully, some of the insights you gain from what I share will provide something of a road map to help you navigate the way forward.