Friday, 8 June 2012

A technologically connected social butterfly (Day 4 #blogjune)

The other day @jobeaz posed the question of whether we are too connected nowadays. Are we spending so much time connected to our devices that we are forgetting how to socialise in person? Forgetting the art of conversation?
It made me stop and think about why I use my iPod/iPad/phone and whether I am spending too much time on them at the expense of more real life time with friends, colleagues and associates.
I've always been a technologically connected social butterfly, even when the most prolific form of online communication was email. One of my first uni subjects was about the Internet and my first assignment was to write a paper collaboratively with study partners (allocated at random) using only online methods. Enter ICQ (remember that??) and Yahoo Messenger. While I did enjoy chatting to friends via these mediums (mainly ICQ) what I didn’t like was the fact that I would be constantly tied to the computer during the communication process. For this reason, I preferred email.
For years this was my main way of keeping in touch with those who weren’t close by, along with texting. I still used the phone, but email was far cheaper. I checked my mail regularly and was rarely behind. Perhaps because this was something I chose to do rather than something I was required to do.
When I convened NLS4, the committee was very disperse, coming from all over Australia. Again email was the main method of communication. By the end of the conference, however, I was so over being glued to the computer, out of necessity, that I didn’t want to check my emails anymore! I even went so far as to put a password on downloading email, so I could access old correspondence but not download new email :)
The pattern I see here is the feeling of being chained to my PC. Enter my iPod (first device) and things changed. I could look at my email from wherever I was (with wifi), go ‘flick, flick, flick” (imagine corresponding wrist action) and within a few minutes have actioned and deleted what used to end up being a backlog.
Do I spend more time on devices than I used to? Definitely. Has this been at the expense of real conversation with people? I think not. There is a time and place for everything. There are some that I only speak with face to face, others via some form of electronic medium (including texting) and others using everything.
All my family are connected but I do have parameters in place as a way of educating the children of when is an appropriate time to be connected. Remember, this is the norm for them, so they don’t see tweeting, texting, emailing or wearing headphones at the dinner table unusual, much less rude.
Oh and I’ve resisted 3G as one of my own parameters :) I really don’t want the option of being connected 24/7 wherever I am!

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