You’re online and it’s highly likely I am as well. In the 21st century most of us are firmly attached to our screens. We turn to them for advice, ideas, information and recommendations from friends, friends of friends, acquaintances and strangers. Twenty-four hours a day people are writing and posting and posturing online about anything and everything, from politics to last night’s pasta. We flock to our screens – big and small – for news and professional development, to pay our bills and balance our checkbooks, to research our current interests, to “connect” with our friends, colleagues, or prospective connections. But are we really connecting through these asynchronous keystrokes, photo and opinion exchanges? It’s convenient but is it better?
I just got Internet on my phone and can barely put it down. When I’m offline I wonder what’s happening, who’s doing what, and what’s new. It’s an act of will to disconnect! Being connected is great, convenient, handy, fun, compelling, engaging… but every minute online is a minute away from real-time, real life connections. I am as attached to my screens as I am repelled by the idea of how much time I spend facing a LCD when I could be making eye contact with actual people or even my dog, but instead I am here.
So very soon, I am going to shut down the laptop, turn off the smart phone, and find someone who needs a hug or a smile, and share one. Maybe even read the paper (on paper). We don’t have to divorce our LCDs, and it’s OK that we love them, but maybe separate, daily vacations would be a good idea. I’m starting one now. If you like that idea, I have an idea: Don’t post or Twitter about it. Call a friend, or better yet, meet one for coffee, and talk about it. And don’t forget to smile.