When being connected is not

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One of the more common things we read about technology these days is just how disconnected all this connectedness is making us. I bet a good psychologist could shed light on all the complex reasons for that, but I'd also bet it's mostly a fear of missing out. Of being out of the loop.. whatever loop we've concocted in our own heads that we think we're part of.

There's this brief moment of escapism, and a feeling that we're part of "it". Of whatever, or everything.. or something. It's like we jump on a giant raft, spinning down a turbulent river with a bunch of people we don't really know (or even like), screaming about politics, virtue signaling, promoting ourselves... saying whatever stupid thing pops into our heads so we're not forgotten. Lately, we've been falling off the raft quite a bit.

But before you take to atwitter or facepalm to lament the state of the current generation and "these times", realize that it started a long time ago. There's nothing new under the sun, not really.

Breakfast Table, 1930

Nearly a century ago, Norman Rockwell captured (as usual) an aspect of human nature that's probably been around since the first time a caveman found some gossip etched into a cave wall or chiseled a selfie. Like the man behind the newspaper, most of what we read or watch or post isn't as significant as what's going on around us, and after an hour or two most of us can't even recall the whole trip anyway. It's like cheetos for the brain.

And it's not jumping off the raft that scares us, but the fear that no one will even notice we're gone. Isn't it parodoxical, that we can be plugged into everything, yet still feel alone and unheard, which in turn causes those around us to feel alone and unheard too? Shallow connections that deprive us of deep connections.

For my part, I dumped social media a couple years ago. Eventually, I reduced my news consumption to local sites and those with focused interests, like technology or religion, but I generally avoid the click-baity national sites (msn, fox, etc). Last year, I started making a more concerted effort to physically move my laptop or phone aside, and close the lid or turn off the display, when my wife came over to talk.

Nothing works all the time. I still read something, get fired up, and want to join in the great cacophony. Other times I get caught up in an article, and find myself sitting behind the proverbial newspaper with someone right next to me trying to have a conversation. Sometimes I come to my senses. Sometimes I realize I've got a far ways to go. I'm a work in progress.

Here are some thoughtful posts by others, all along a similar vein:

What does all this mean for you? Maybe nothing. Or maybe pin a message in your feed that says you're taking the next 2 weeks off, and jump off the raft for awhile. Don't worry, it'll be right where you left it.


Grant Winney

I write when I've got something to share - a personal project, a solution to a difficult problem, or just an idea. We learn by doing and sharing. We've all got something to contribute.

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