Thursday, September 20, 2012

Be connected

Nothing like a little Internet outage to refocus one’s energies.

It never fails to amaze me how quickly we can revert from the relatively-laid-back summer mode to a full-out crazy, stress-filled, gotta-get-it-done-yesterday attitude.

Then comes a cut fiber optic cable. Suddenly it’s like we’re back in the dark ages. What, no emails from off campus? But we have ongoing projects, on deadline, with companies on both the east and west coasts!

So here we sit in Common Grounds, wireless laptops and smart phones in hand, but still feeling somewhat – OK very much – unconnected.

It’s ironic to me to hear all the angst about teens and their need to be connected. A new Ohio law makes it a first-degree moving violation if you’re a teen and on your phone while driving a car, but a secondary offense if you’re an ‘adult’ and on the phone, while driving a car. Like distracted driving is any less dangerous if you are older. Like older adults are any less guilty of wanting to instantaneously keep in touch with friends and family, of reaching for the phone when bored.

Tuesday’s Forum was a panel discussion about how to be a good audience in a technical world. It led to interesting conversation over lunch – how do we make priorities with our time and attention with so many potential technical interruptions? Is there such a thing as technological etiquette?

Is it rude for Robin and I to be sitting four feet apart, both with our noses alternating between laptops and cell phones, occasionally commenting on each other’s university Facebook and Twitter postings? It may be weird, but not rude. After all, this is a work day and we’re both trying to get something accomplished.

Now if this was a Friday evening at the same place, same table, that would be a different story.

A study was mentioned Tuesday that technology is making us lonelier. I’ll buy that. BC (before cell phones) if one was standing in a line, or waiting with a crowd of people, it would not be unusual for people to strike up a conversation. "Where you from?" "Have you seen this band  before?" Now that just seems weird and maybe a little creepy. As we wait, we reach out to others through our phones, oblivious to all the potential connections around us.

I think J. Denny Beaver has the right idea. In his Facebook post he suggested

“Make it a great day to get to know your neighbor! Make a new friend in person, then you can be friends on Facebook tomorrow (hopefully).

Do. Work. Do Good Work. That's what Beavers do!"