CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Opinion

August 19, 2010

Better connected, or no escape?

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CULLMAN — We recently had a chat here at The Times office about just how connected people seem to be these days.

Be it cell phones, Facebook, text messages, instant messages, e-mails, FourSquare, MySpace and whatever else is coming down the pike — there are a lot of ways to get in touch with folks these days.

In some ways, this can be a good thing. A cell phone is an excellent device to have in case of an emergency. For example, if my car breaks down, I’m very glad my wife/friends/family/mechanic all have cell phones so I can get in touch with them at a moment’s notice (I’m equally glad to have a phone with me to call them from). So, in that regard: Connectivity is good.

But, after a while, too much of a good thing can swing the pendulum the other way.

It often happens on off days, for me. Whenever I have a day away from the office, it seems my phone can’t stop ringing and buzzing long enough for me to enjoy it. Plus, with e-mail now forwarded to my phone, it can be very hard to pull myself away from “work mode,” and just check out and relax.

Another example: Around the office, reporters are available to interact with the community often. Be it via phone calls, walk-ins, or e-mails (my preferred method of communication), we try our best to be there. Over the last year or so as we’ve added Twitter and Facebook accounts, however, it has also increased the amount of inboxes we have to check on a regular basis. Now, I’m not saying we mind doing that — the more ways to reach us, the better — but it can become an ordeal from time to time just to check and respond to messages through a half dozen mediums. Plus, I just can’t seem to remember to check that darn Twitter inbox.

As technology has gone even further, it’s now possible for the sender of a text message to know when the recepient views the message — which one person at the office noted constitutes a “violation of personal privacy.” You know, because you can no longer use the age old “Oh, I didn’t get it,” excuse.

Now, are all these things bad? Absolutely not, and honestly, I love having all my friends and family just a click away (well, most of the time).

But, we can get burned out after a while. My wife forgot her phone when she left the house a few weeks ago, and she just raved about how good it felt to be untethered to her digital life for a few hours.

In this day and age of never-ending connectivity, it can be freeing to drop the cellphone and log off Facebook long enough to remember how we used to communicate — namely, face-to-face.

‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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