Brian, I agree that our connected mobile devices do feed the addictive, compulsive and impulsive aspects of our personalities. These devices are indeed here to stay, so the solution is psychological, not technological. Self-discipline, time management, interpersonal communication skill development, etc.
Every person has a need to unplug on a regular basis, for varying periods of time, and the situational context affects that need. The key, of course, is balance. When a college student sacrifices getting needed sleep and fails an exam because he was Facebooking with his friends all night, that is clearly an imbalance. Likewise, a business executive on vacation, sitting on the beach with his wife and his smartphone, checking and replying to every work email as it comes in, has lost his sense of balance.
But balance works both ways. In many aspects of life, especially work, we need these devices and this connectivity in order to remain productive and competitive. It is likely that it is quite unacceptable, for example, for that business executive to completely unplug for 2 weeks of vacation, never answering a single email or text message, no matter how urgent, during that entire period.
Just as we all strike our own work/personal life balance, we must also strike a connected/unconnected balance in both our work lives and our personal lives. Extremes at either end of the spectrum have costs.
@drewlanza, so fantastic to see your name! (Which reminds me to have lunch with you this year!).... outstanding points. I think as humans we always struggle with evolution. I would much prefer the Drew Lanza across the table than the Drew Lanza on FB, Twitter or wherever, although, that Drew Lanza has value too. I like to think that the human connection will never be severed, but around the holidays it's unsettling to see a roomful of 20-somethings (cousins, brothers, sisters) hunched over their laptops or mobile phones connecting somewhere outside of the room. To Nic's point: there is no turning back.
We are the Borg...resistance if futile...like us on Facebook. No thanks. We have reached a point where we simply do not need or want a lot of the so called innovations. 3D TV? I can't stand every movie being in 3D why would I want everything on my TV to be that way?
There IS no turning back, and marimba ring tones have displaced the serene in all of us: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/new-york-philharmonic-interrupted-by-chimes-mahler-never-intended/?scp=1&sq=mahler&st=cse
two things stand out:
1. SNAP...IT'S GOING DOWN! there is no turning back.
2.Software may provide the filters we will need to focus on preset criteria, discern what is "critical" as "multi tasking" 24/7!
We were made to talk to each other, not thumb at each other. SO I agree that we are in the beginning of a social era and walking on all fours grunting sounds, throwing "like" switches and making remote videos our communications of choice. When technology progresses so that speech recognition with machines becomes natural in ANY language and machines will talk back with human-like voice qualities with INTELLIGENCE, life will become much simpler. Apple's Siri and Intel's Nikiski based on Windows 8 are baby steps for the upcoming "talk as a you walk" era.
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Reading Super Sad True Love Story gives a glimpse into what our world could look like in 40-ish years. Certainly made me check myself a little, making an effort to scale back the constant updating/emailing/IMing/facebooking.