Ricky's Riffs:

Random thoughts on Travel, Education, Health, and the World in General

Connection and Connectivity

Email, text messages, skype, blackberries, Facebook, and MySpace. Never in the history of humankind have we had the level of technological connection that we experience today. In an instant, we are able to contact Kathmandu, Rangoon, or New York, make dinner plans while walking down the street, or watch a movie on our i-pod as we sit in the doctors office. We now have the ability to eliminate distance, to conquer aloneness. And if we believe that one key to our happiness and satisfaction is social connection, contact with those important to us, then surely these new technical links, must bring us greater enjoyment of and satisfaction in our lives,

But is it so? What is the nature and meaning of these connections? What is it to be a part of this modern network? The very ability to make instantaneous contact speeds up our world. And as we create singular devices that can handle all the modes of communication, from email to internet to phone, there is a subtle change in our movement, a move to utilize all of the modalities. Why? Because we can. And it is expected of us—at work and at play. So we begin to multitask as the communication demands increase. Yet as there is only so much time in the day, in order to maintain this new level of contact, each communication becomes shorter, and as we have to satisfy so many demands, each one commands less of our attention. The quality of our communications becomes diminished as speed and volume demands intensify. Our contacts become thinner, less focused and meaningful, even as we expand our network of “friends” through the multiplication of electronic social networks. We find ourselves embedded in a web of connectivity, yet struggling to find deep connection, hungry to spend some time focused on one task, with one person, fully and presently engaged.

Perhaps a big “time out” is in order for us all; some time to quiet down, turn off our “connection machines” for a few moments, to sit in a café with a cup of tea and breathe, to take a walk, to move at a new pace, at human speed. Sounds so very simple. It may be tougher than we think.

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