Are we too connected?
by ALLISON CRYER
On Wednesday morning, many residents in the area were sent into a panic when cell phone service was out for only a couple of hours in the Jennings area.
Within minutes of the outage, many people broke into a cold sweat, their hands shaking and trembling as they mumbled phrases like:
“Now I can’t check Facebook? What if I miss a status update,” or “I feel so lost, what do I do now,” or even “I guess we will have to work now.”
Silly me, I was only worried about missing a call from one of my contacts for work. But I didn’t. And you know what, that was the best morning that I have had in a while – free of interruption.
There was no cell phone buzzing across my desk every five minutes. There were none of the phone calls or texts that usually interrupt my thought process whilst I type away furiously each morning, often racing to meet my daily deadline.
Despite the fearful cries of terror and confusion around me over the outage, I do not feel as if anything was actually lost that morning. It did not make me feel helpless to be disconnected from the constant stream of reposts, unoriginal ideas and other time wasters.
The truth is I just don’t have time to look at every text containing a repost or ironic infographic. My text inbox is frequently infiltrated by the same meaningless junk that I already have to sort through once each time I access my Facebook page or email just to retrieve any information that is of actual use.
Today’s smart phones do many amazing like taking pictures or videos, scanning in documents, analyzing your stock portfolio – and some even double as a flashlight. However, look around the room and you will find the majority staring wide-eyed at the glowing screens on their phones reading status updates, as if addicted to the flow of incoming texts and social media feeds.
Also, thanks to the smart phone, we are now instantly connected to everything everyday, which comes with new expectations. For example, if someone sends a text, you are often expected to return their text immediately or you might get several more texts. When I call someone and they don’t answer, I don’t usually call back five more times and leave hostile voicemails. Also, if you do not return a text I sent immediately, I would not assume that you were fatally injured in a car accident or stranded in a ditch and in need of rescue. Why is it so important to feel that we are connected to everyone all the time? And most importantly, how do we find time for ourselves in this new dynamic?
In a world where we are all so connected, there is no such thing anymore as uninterrupted “me” time. It is really a wonder that we get anything done with so many interruptions in our lives? That could be why the average American train-of-thought is steadily shrinking, along with our attention spans.
I miss the days when you could go out with your friends and if someone needed to talk to you they would leave a message on a small machine that recorded a message for playback on a tiny cassette tape. While today this may sound archaic, it was actually pretty nice because no one expected you to be sitting at home waiting by the phone in case someone calls. But now that the majority of Americans have smart phones that provide us with instant access to social media, email and texts, many people expect just that – instant access to people too.
We are already faced daily with constant interruptions, and it seems like all this connectedness is only making the situation worse. There is never any time to be alone with one’s own thoughts with a buzzing cell phone glued to your hip.
If we aren’t already, we will soon be so oversaturated with communication. Soon we will have to use a spam folder that would filter out all of the unnecessary texts and social media updates – the junk that everyone was afraid they were going to miss on Wednesday morning when cell phone service was interrupted.
That sounds like a great idea for an ironic infographic. It would have an image of a forlorn-looking woman staring off into the distance and looking lost as she says, “My cell phone service is out and I don’t know how to continue on without all the interruptions!”
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