“Catch up for a coffee at 5?” I smsed a friend. I had to be at the RiAus at 6 for the Mind Share talk with Mark Pesce.
“Yep, see you then.” I met her at the usual place, creatures of habit that we are.
At the RiAus I settled into a chair with my laptop and logged into Twitter. Mark began his talk, taking notes from a little black book as he confidently conversed on the nature of online and mobile connection. Live tweeting the event was a surreal experience – transmitting his thoughts on connectivity to a connected online audience.
Five minutes before the end, as Mark fielded final questions, I smsed my partner. “Almost finished, can I get a lift?”
How did I live before mobile phones? Strange to think it wasn’t that long ago.
I remember crouching around a small computer screen playing communal Wolfenstein at age five with my two cousins. A shared mind working together to navigate the maze, shoot, and time escapes. These days massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG’s) connect thousands to fantasy realms for co-operative play. When did that start?
Think, for a second, how much has changed in your lifetime. Remember the days before Wikipedia, before Facebook, before iPhones?
In about five years we have become a culture of complete connection, and as Mark put it “we stink at it.”
For many of us, the connection is addictive. I’m a nervous wreck when without the net for three days. I get the shakes. Logging on is like a drug, flushing the mind with dopamine and serotonin, telling us everything is okay again.
Log on too often, though, and the shadow side emerges. Sometimes its impossible to switch off nor the heightened mental state required to constantly process new information be maintained.
A binge ends well after midnight with an untouched coffee long cold, a blossoming headache, and a final 140 character flourish to followers.
This is a problem.
Mark urged that we need to think as individuals and ethicists about disconnect time. The soul needs time for reflection, time for itself, he said.
I think the biggest danger with our constantly connected culture is a strong sense of self. With pure ego directing our actions, we look for like-minded people and become locked into a community that thinks only of itself. We become converters, preachers, know-it-alls.
Perhaps to truly communicate we need to relax and stop worrying what others think of us. Stop trying to have the wittiest tweet, a well-liked wall, and just one more follower. We have to stop wanting to be noticed, and start noticing others. Start listening.
Does any of this ring true for you, or am I just giving myself advice?
I’m waxing philosophical. Time to disconnect and reflect.