The Need to Connect: A Boon or a Curse?
By Tom Anselm
You’ve seen it before, I am sure. Several people sitting together. Friends, family. Not talking. Looking down into their palms, their laps. Not communicating. Oh, wait, yes they are. Just not with each other. Each of them is attentive only to some glowing electronic device.
Is this high-tech world of greater connectedness one that really may be leading to an actual disconnect? What is this phenomenon, so prevalent in the world that its hold on some has even spawned a psychiatric diagnosis? In Great Britain, this anomaly is known as MAID, Mobile and Internet Dependency.
We have texting, facebook, Twitter, Instagram, youtube, Linkedin, Vine. There’s Facetime and Skype. My tech-savvy youngest just clued me in to Google Plus. They all are designed to assist us in communicating. But they take time to use, posting and reading and reposting and sharing and responding. And with the giant upsurge in smartphone and tablet technology, my guess is that it will only become more prevalent.
I don’t got me no smartphone. Just a good ‘ole-fashioned” dumbphone. The flip variety. No apps, a little texting, calls taken and made. I don’t need to check my email and the extra bucks for a data plan every month is rather off-putting, ya, know?
Still, I have been known to turn around and come home when realizing I left the thing on the kitchen counter. A mild dependency, perhaps, but a dependency nonetheless.
So I ask, are we being manipulated by a power we don’t understand? How much time do we spend clicking on, scrolling to, or downloading stuff that has absolutely no value to our life, sucking away valuable minutes of our ultimately time-limited life. Time could be better spent, oh, I don’t know, reading maybe or learning Italian, to check out “The Five Best Way’s to Cook Broccoli” or “What Team the Stars of Duck Dynasty Are Picking for Super Bowl?”
I admit to doing this sort of search more times than I am proud of, especially when it comes to health stuff and sports. But in the end, did I really need to read “The Ten New Ways to Lower Your Risk of Dying When Water Skiing” when am certain I will never attempt that task?
There is also a certain fear factor built into this connected-ness frenzy. I have called a family member and had to leave a voicemail. Now, a lot of our younger set don’t even listen to the message. They just call back with “Hi, what’s up?” Which is good. But when they don’t respond within a reasonable time, I begin to wonder if they are alright, like, have they been abducted by aliens, fallen prey to zombies, or had an otherwise more probable accident.
Ultimately, it is just one more way to borrow trouble, a trouble that may never come.
I am not against technological advances. I have long been a fan of electricity, indoor plumbing and garage door openers. But when the NSA knows more about us than our mom did, it makes me nervous. Not that I am doing anything wrong, it’s just the point of being subject to intrusion. And I hate, really dislike, seriously abhor the pressure that is being put on our youth to have the latest in devices, from I-Pod to I-Pad to tablet to whatever palm-shaped thingie is coming next.
I hope this doesn’t come across as simply the ranting and raving of an old fuddy-duddy. (Remember, I did start Medicare this month.) I just think we may be sliding down a slippery slope to disconnected-ness in an age where simply talking to one another other might be far more worthwhile.
Is that so wrong?
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