how reliant have we become

Last week, my work laptop decided to take a small vacation.  It didn’t warn me ahead of time, it just stopped, froze, gave me the hourglass and a smile.  Before you start saying, “hey, you should get a Mac, they never crash, blah, blah, blah,” understand that it is my work laptop.  This is an issued device loaned to me in order to do things like read and answer email, develop spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations and edit SharePoint sites.  Suddenly, I had nothing to do, sort of anyway.  I could still make phone calls (remember those?) and dial in to conference calls, even attend meetings in person.  The thing was, I actually had to pay attention!  Seriously!  Don’t you have a Blackberry?  No.  iPhone?  Nope.  Just a cell that makes calls and sends text messages.  I’m behind the times by about a year I guess. 

Here is what was weird.  Business did not come to a screeching halt.  The economy didn’t shut down suddenly.  Local commerce kept moving along.  In short, nothing really happened to cause alarm other than me having to sit at my desk without a computer to distract me.  Going to a meeting and paying attention?  I got to watch how distracted everyone else gets.  When did it become ok to completely ignore people who are speaking?  What is happening on your laptop screen or smartphone or shoe that is so much more interesting?  Okay, it depends on the topic and presenter, but still.  We do it outside of meetings too.  Have you sat at a bar, restaurant, park bench, city bus, etc. talking with someone and paused to look at your wireless device to see if something more important was appearing? 

I’m trying to fight this.  My wife got a blackberry and wants me to get the same one.  Verizon is promoting the Droid and that looks way cool.  My biggest issue?  I’m connected all day!  I sit in an office, at a desk with a PC that is online.  If I need to check gmail, I can do it, need to tweet something…no problem.  When I get home, I have two laptops and a desktop that can be powered up and connected.  So why do I need yet another device where people can find me?  I’m easily distracted enough.  I can lose focus on a conversation if a TV screen is on, why encourage that?

I didn’t learn anything new without the laptop.  I already know I’m addicted to being connected.  The question now is, do I want to completely drown myself in the pool of wireless connectivity or at least have some time where I’m not easily reached other than band practice?  Oh wait, the Droid commercial just showed up on the TV again.  Never mind, I’m getting in line.  They look too cool.

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