Connectivity isn’t the problem. Addiction is.

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Taylor Martin published a piece recently about disconnecting. And for the most part, he was right. It’s a good idea to disconnect every now and then. Enjoy the show. Smell the roses, or at least look at the roses without immediately whipping out your phone and taking a picture of them and uploading it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MMS, BBM, and email.

But, like many things, it’s only a problem if it takes over. Connectivity is a good thing. It’s a wonderful thing. It makes your life easier in every conceivable way. Life is good when you’re connected. But connectivity needs to remain a tool, not a crutch.

We’ve all done it. We’re sitting there, maybe at dinner, and we pick up the phone, and check our email. We got no notification, but we check. Maybe we hit the refresh button. It all takes less than 5 seconds, but during that 5 seconds we disappear from the real world.  That’s when it’s a crutch.

no-cell-phone-signThey’re everywhere

You know the addicts. The ones who wear the bluetooth earpieces constantly despite the fact that you don’t recall ever seeing them actually on the phone. They’re the ones who sneak in those 5 seconds I referred to earlier while you’re talking. They’re the ones who, as Taylor recounts, watch entire songs or concerts in the 4 inch view finder on their phone, rather than the 70′ tall jumbotron.

I’m addicted. I know it. I check my phone far more often than I should. I look at my phone in the car at red lights. Ok sometimes at green lights too. I probably should look at my phone less, but alas it rules me.

Specific uses

The Internet and your mobile devices should be tools. They should allow you to get what you need – whether it’s tomorrow’s forecast, directions, or a message from your friends or coworkers.  Unfortunately, the Internet has evolved into a ubiquitous, constantly changing source of…whatever. Oh sure, you can still get your news and weather and all that, but social media has changed the landscape from a quick one-and-done task to a evolving timeline. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and the like – all of them have constantly updating information.

Unfortunately, we have started to think of those older forms of Internet usage in the same way. Email is not an evolving timeline. It’s a one-and-done type of situation. And yet many of us are constantly checking our email for updates, despite the fact that it doesn’t (and really shouldn’t) work like that.

I'm totally listening to you....wait, what?

I’m totally listening to you….wait, what?

Scary trends

It’s for this reason that concepts like the smart watch, and Google Glass are a little bit scary. These devices are designed to be unobtrusive and functional. They’re supposed to, in theory, allow you to connect without losing the moment. In reality for the majority of the world, they will allow us to try and be more sneaky when we’re stealing away for glances at our smart devices. It won’t actually be any more subtle or sneaky, but we’ll think it is, so we’ll do it more.

It’s a scary world we live in. And yes, most of us are more addicted to technology than just about anything else. But the problem isn’t in being connected. It’s in the addiction to the connectivity that’s the problem. Connectivity has become a vice like smoking or gambling, or reruns of Lost. Did I feel Taylor exhibited the signs of the tech addict during his recount of his concert experience? No. The folks around him? Absolutely. I’m going to give Taylor a pat on the back, and his fellow concert goers a slap on the head.

Truth be told, I’m probably just as addicted as those other folks, but not at concerts. I snapped off a few photos at the Blackhawks rally this summer (the closest comparison I can make in my sad little life), but the phone went into my pocket for the bulk of it of the show. I’m not about to give myself any awards though. Because other times, when I’m at home, or out to dinner, or hanging with friends, I feel the pangs, the hunger. I subtly slip out my phone, glimpse my tiles and slip the phone back onto the table without anyone seeing. But that’s mostly because they’re doing the same thing and not paying any attention to me.

iiiiiiii-Precious....

iiiiiiii-Precious

I’m an addict

My name is Adam Doud, and I’m an addict. But I can quit any time I want. Honest.

But for now, dear readers, I have an experiment for you. I found this on the Internet once, and it intrigued me until I realized I couldn’t afford it.  But I’ll leave it out there for you to try if you want.  The next time you’re going out to a restaurant with friends, have everyone stack their phones in a tower face down. The first person to check their phone, pays the bill.

You’re welcome….or sorry.  Depending on how addicted you are.

phone-stack

 

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs.Read more about Adam Doud!