Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Addicted to Technology?

For the last 3 weeks, my Internet connection has been spotty at best. I've spent most of my time on the road doing this or that and spent time with my parents at their home in the county. Even a cell phone connection is extinct in the area I grew up, so I've been disconnected from the world. I try to enjoy these times of disconnect for the "detox" effect they create in my mind, relieving me from the constant distractions of technology and every day life in general. Over the last three weeks, I've even gotten in the habit of NOT grabbing my phone when I went to the bathroom! Progress! 

When did we become so addicted to technology? I can remember, not so long ago, if I wanted to share something with someone, I had to wait until they were at home to either call or go by. Then I would call, hoping the line wasn't "busy" (gasp!), and share whatever it was that "couldn't wait." Next came answering machines and call waiting and all the "conveniences" they offered. Oh, how saying, "Hold on, I've got someone on the other line," made me feel so important! Caller ID made me realize the true use of the answering machine! 

My first cell phone was a massive bag phone from BellSouth Mobility. This thing had to be plugged into the cigarette lighter of the car and connected to an antenna on the back glass. The phone itself cost more than the car did, but you could get in touch with me no matter where I was, as long as I had signal (which wasn't very good in those days). My next cell was a slightly smaller hand-held, battery operated unit that only cost .65¢ a minute to use. The price you pay to be connected.

Enter the Internet. For the cost of a computer and a monthly connection subscription, I could stay connected permanently in my home. E-Mail, Chat Rooms, Instant Messenger, VoIP, and Video Conferencing had become a reality. Smaller laptop computers came along and helped usher in the WiFi age, where I could sit in a coffee shop and connect wirelessly to the shop's wifi connection. It's important to be connected when you have your morning coffee!

We're now in the age of smart phones, which are really just small cellular computers, and we've finally reached full connectivity, 99% of the time. I say 99% because there are always those times we find ourselves looking for enough signal to make a call (if your carrier is AT&T, we'll adjust this number to around 70%). We're constantly checking our phones, looking to see if we missed something in "our world." Look around you when you go out and notice the number of people sitting at a table together with their faces in their phones. Chances are, they are conversing with each other over text message or Facebook. I have sat at these tables and even participated in this bastardized form of communication, so I'm not pointing fingers, just trying to help raise awareness. We, as a society, have grown addicted to staying informed of every little thing that is "important in our world."

During my "21 Days of Disconnect" I've gone to visit some friends I haven't seen in a while, talked to some friends I haven't talked to in a while, and just enjoyed the company of others. No phones, no Internet, just real, old fashioned conversation. I plan on doing it a lot more. Not that I don't like being connected, but because I crave the interaction. I don't think I could ever completely unplug, but at least I know I can go for a short time disconnected. More Progress!