Am I the only one out there who feels like the more connected we are, the less connected we feel? Don’t get me wrong, I love my Blackberry and the convenience it affords me. It’s great to always have email at my fingertips and a real time-saver to quickly reply to an important message when I’m away from home. I use social media for work and for play, and am constantly amazed by its power to spread a message at lightning speed and to galvanize people around a cause. But I can’t help feeling that the more that our daily interactions go online, that quality time is being abandoned in favor in quantity, in the form of an avalanche of meaningless messages. Is life passing us by while our noses are in our smart phones?
I handle PR and social media for a small company, and part of my job involves sending out regular email blasts. In response to a recent blast, I received the following automated reply: ‘I’m swearing off email for the time being.’ Swearing off email? What in the world? I couldn’t conceptualize how, in the modern world, this could even be possible, nor could I contain my incredible jealousy. How I would love to be able to just decide to not engage in the method of communication used overwhelmingly by most of the planet. What power. What rebellion. What luxury.
Because the truth is, as much as I love my Blackberry, I feel a little bit enslaved by it. Every time it dings and that red light starts blinking, I feel compelled to check it. Immediately. Gone are the days of waiting until I get home from a class or from dinner to log on to my computer to check messages. Oh no. Now it’s right there, all the time.
And the convenience is a little bit maddening. How many times have you been out to a movie or at a party or sharing a meal with someone, who won’t stop checking their phone? It’s like, come on man, would it kill you to pay attention to the real life person who’s right in front of you, rather than this tiny computer that’s got you on an electronic leash? Now I’m not claiming to be completely innocent in this department. I’m guilty of compulsive message checking too, because for some stupid reason, emails left unanswered leave me with an unreasonable amount of anxiety. But I recognize my compulsion and I’m trying to break myself of it. After all, admitting that you have a problem is the first step toward recovery. Yesterday, I even went for a hike and didn’t look at my phone for a whole hour. And nobody died.
I don’t want to lose my humanity to a computer or become one of those people who only knows how to relate to others online. I don’t want to miss out on having a great time at a concert or a sporting event because I’m too busy ‘checking in’ about the great time I’m having. I’d still rather pick up the phone and call you than exchange 50 text messages. But that’s me.
So with the weekend upon us (hooray!), I invite you to join me in unplugging from your devices (just for a bit, I promise it will only hurt a little), and logging some face time, instead of some Facebook time.
Until next time, friends.