Rarely have I read such an articulate, insightful and disturbing status report about the human race:
We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.” Technology-enabled, we are able to be with one another, and also elsewhere, connected to wherever we want to be. We want to customize our lives. We want to move in and out of where we are because the thing we value most is control over where we focus our attention. We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party.
I see this behavior all the time, especially in adults. I hate it. Often I want to ask the person, “Why are you here? To interact with me, or to check your e-mail?”
And yet, I am certain I am guilty of the same behaviors. Being blessed with a husband who loves to drive, I often use my time in the car to communicate with clients and friends, sending messages and playing my single iPhone vice. In the guise of taking notes, I can read the news on my phone during boring meetings; I have noticed that I no longer sketch chair backs and light fixtures in the margins of my agendas, and honestly, I kind of miss that last connection to years spent with a pencil glued to my hand.
Later, the author continues:
We expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship. Always-on/always-on-you devices provide three powerful fantasies: that we will always be heard; that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; and that we never have to be alone. Indeed our new devices have turned being alone into a problem that can be solved.
The great irony of this: I love being alone. In fact, most days I find myself working at the computer and thinking, “If I can just get this finished, I’ll go work in the garden / start dinner / read a book on the front porch.” And suddenly, after work with distractions all day it’s time for bed. Or, more likely, way past time for bed. So, for me at least, it’s a matter of control. How can I keep these (innovative, useful, efficient) devices at a life-enhancing, and not a life-encompassing, level? I’d love to know how other people are handling it.