Constant Connectedness

Photo Credit: Terria Clay Photography

I feel left out. I watch people filling moments in their day by staring at tiny little cellphone screens. I have a tiny little screen too, but the processor behind it is slow, so I don’t (and won’t) stare at the little screen all day.

Since I got rid of my Blackberry 9 months ago, I’ve noticed something. People are obsessed with being constantly entertained.  They couldn’t bear to have a few spare moments without something to see or do. Maybe I’m just bitter I can’t be a cellphone zombie with my prepaid cellphone plan, but it’s really annoying to watch this. It seems people prefer to “like” idiotic “memes” on Facebook than talk to the person standing next to them.

Even if I spend the money on some fancy cellphone and some fancy plan, would it be worth it? Who am I connecting with that I need to be available to them twenty-four hours a day? If I don’t have a person’s phone number, and they don’t have mine, why do we need to be able access to each other at a moment’s notice?  I’m not sure if some of my Facebook friends would even say hello if they saw me on the street.

As much of a hater as I seem to be to all you technology folks, I get it. People these days expect an instant response. If someone doesn’t respond to an email within a few hours, we start to assume the person never checks their email.  If someone doesn’t text or tweet us back within 5 minutes, we begin to think they are ignoring us:  they better have a d*mn good reason for making us wait. Please tell me you think this absurd.

Why Connectedness Drives Consumerism

As you can see, I’m not immune to this connectedness virus either. It attacks unexpectedly—although usually when I have a little extra cash. In the last few weeks or so, I’ve been feeling DISconnected and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get a tablet. Here’s my thought process:

I could sell my old laptop, my netbook; perhaps spend a little less on food each month so I could afford a monthly data plan. But then again, tablets are complicated products for writers. While they are great for doing research, they are horrible for writing. They just aren’t efficient. And carrying around a laptop isn’t efficient either.  If only I had a tablet connected to a keyboard, I’d be in great shape. I could get one of those Windows 8 tablet computers.

And then I realized I have something like that already: A netbook. Sure, it’s not touchscreen, but it does the job.  That’s why I didn’t buy the tablet in the first place. Instead of appreciating what I have, I was going to spend MORE money on something I didn’t need.

It’s a vicious cycle, really. When we get connected, we consume entertainment, news, gossip, etc. When we consume these things, we consume advertisements. When we consume advertisements, we purchase more items that will be better and faster at getting us connected. And then the process starts all over again, except we are able to consume more information and advertisements than before, and thus consume (purchase) more items than before.

That’s why I had to say “the buck stops here!” No more consumption of technology until I have exhausted the capabilities of what I already have.  Maybe I’ll be a little behind the times in technology, but I won’t be a zombie. During the time it takes for my page to load, I can stop and look around. I keep my eyes ahead of me as a cross a street (I see students texting while walking across an intersection everyday. Their foolishness baffles me.) I can interact with the people around me. I can live in the moment.

When will we stop consuming and start living?