Are We Really Connected…?

Beginnings:    The alarm buzzes you awake.  Morning!   Before the feet even hit the floor, we reach for the cell phone.  Time to wake up mr. phone!  Entertain and enlighten me.  Tell me what is happening in my world.   Who called?  Who texted?  Did I get any emails?  Chilly and cloudy, possible rain!  Yuck!  Oh, man!  The Lions can’t catch a break with the quarterback!  Damn!  You have only made it past the bedroom door.  Yey!  Crest and a toothbrush.  Oh cool,  Ashton and Demi were spotted at Koi.  They are still together.  Heading down the hall, 4 texts sent and answered.  Going to the Game on Saturday. Cool!  Reaching the kitchen, pouring a cup of coffee to help fuel the electronic data exchange that will continue for another 12 hours.   So much accomplished before even enjoying that first  cup of Joe!   Don’t say you aren’t guilty of this.  To some degree, everyone is. Electronic

Face Time:    I believe we keep in touch with others via electronic media.  However, I am not sure we are really connected!    Such a huge difference between keeping in touch verses being connected.   The lines become even more blurred with each passing year.  We change as the technology changes.  Being connected by definition is:  “being joined in close association.”   That is not the case with all this electronic media. Convenient, yes!   It was not so long ago,  that I would walk down the street to my neighbor’s home, carrying a basket of summer veggies fresh from the garden or a dish piled high with countless oven baked treats.  All with the hope of sharing coffee and some face time with another human.   Face to face interactions are amazing!   As I sit across from my neighbor, we both experience being in the moment.  Her acceptance of  my gift of neighborly kindness and mine as the gift giver.  Small, but Priceless.  MasterCard has nothing on me.  Then, while engaged in conversation, I take notice of her eye movement, facial expressions and hand gestures.  Something is not quite right.  The body language of  my friend expressed so much  more than the words spoken.  I knew something was amiss.  She was distressed.   I follow my instincts and continue to observe her while listening closely to every word.   I was connected to my friend, that is close association with another.  No phone call, text or email would  reveal what I saw by being present and truly, truly connected.

Plugged In:  Alas, it is not always possible to be present every moment of every day.  Perhaps becoming more aware that we need a bit more personal contact would be a good thing.  So, interesting enough, there is another definition for connected:  “Plugged In.”   Boy, isn’t that well said.  Of course, this originally  pertained to all appliances and power tools.  No comments from the peanut gallery!  In this modern-day electronic communication age, it means plugged in to society via whatever electronic media.  Whether by Facebook, Twitter, laptop and all the smart phone apps (do-dads), you know them all.  Yup!  I have most of them.  I even have a virtual pet cat.  So this means that checking email, voicemail, twitter, face booking? ( is that a word or verb?) we feel compelled to join in and stay plugged in.   All of which keeps us connected with the world and our 457 Facebook friends.  I get it!  I use all of these.   I just feel no obligation to them.  Does that mean I am not addicted yet?  Observations by myself  and other group discussions have affirmed belief that after a time, we become so  “Plugged In”,  that we become disconnected.  No pointing fingers or placing blame, it just happens.  We are in that moment of technology and totally unaware of other surroundings. 

 Technology in our family:   Statistics say that the average teen will text over 100 times per day.  Really!  Do they sleep at all?  Speaking of this.   Have you spent more than 20 minutes next to a pre-teen or teenager lately?  If so, then you know first hand that the body is present with their favorite gadget and that is all.   Try having a conversation.  How’s that working for you?   Our discussion group agreed on this general consensus regarding a typical conversation with “Susie”:  Hi, Susie!  How are you?  OK!  How was your day?  OK!  Congratulations!  You have just made it thru a whopping 10 seconds before her cell phone rings.  Naturally, it MUST be answered.  Screams!  Laughs!  OMGs galore!  Then, on to texting.  All the while, there you are, standing by, like the  Lighthouse high on a cliff, waiting for  passing ships.  You clear your throat to remind Susie, you’re still here.  Susie frowns.  I’ll have to call you back. K?  Too late, its sooo obvious you are intruding, that all you can say is, uh,  See ya later!    If you have not had the pleasure of experiencing this first hand, go stand in line at a department store or grocery.  The place where every 4-year-old in the store is calling out Mom! Mom!  Mom!  To this, every Mother, Grandmother, Aunt, Sister,  turns toward the voices.  No matter what our age, we always react.   Instinct!   No, watch a young adult inter-act  with a parent.  The phone is to the ear or fingers flying at record speed across the keys.  The parent can call out, Trevor!  Trevor!  Trevor!  Being 3 feet away carries no guarantee of being heard.  Trevor at last responds, Huh!   The parent asks questions, replies are grunted.  Annoyed, Trevor walks away.  It never dawns on the young adult that perhaps lending a helping hand may serve them well today and in the future.  I always took advantage of any moment to be a do-gooder.  Might need to use the car on Saturday!    Apparently I was of a minority as my children, no matter the age, should participate in the activity of the moment.  From placing items on the check-out stand to carrying bags to and from the car.  How hard is it?  

Technology in the WorkPlace:   My all time favorite story of one of being sooooo plugged in and certainly disconnected simultaneously, that my hair stands on end.  Here it is:  A member of our discussion group told a tale that was surely meant to be shared on a camping trip, while under a moonless night sky, in a too small tent with flashlights tucked under our chins. I still get  Goose Bumps!  Do I hear wolves howling?   On the job, my friend Ted, was the only employee in the office.  The employer, Mr Owner,  was usually gone, communicating thru email, text & voicemail.  When Mr Owner  would briefly stop in, the smart phone never left his fingers or his ear for that matter.  Alas,  the lonely and apparently lowly employee was not allowed to speak to him or ask questions of  Mr Owner.  Ted could however, text or email comments or questions to Mr Owner.  These usually went unanswered.  The only time an answer would come would be to point out some “crazy fact”   Ted had not done on a case.  Ted emailed  “How do I know what to do in certain cases, when no one is here to discuss it?”   Mr Owner emailed back, ” I am here to tell you what you do wrong, nothing more!”  NICE, huh!  The bit that drives me crazy, is that Mr Owner’s office was 10 steps away from Ted’s desk.  Mr Owner should go on Survivor as a detox program from technology.  Or, better yet, seek out the Wizard and ask for a heart and a brain.  

Love My Phone:    Hey, do not get me wrong here.  I love my smart phone and laptop.  Believe me if my smart phone could bring home a paycheck, treat me like a “princess” and build a new house on the lake,  I would consider  marrying my phone.  Research has shown that about 75% of women use email and text every day.  An even more staggering number is the fact that users over 55 have increased almost 500% in the last few years.  That’s 500% and that is not a typo.   Go Seniors!!!   WooHoo!  I really do understand why the over 55 set and older seniors are wild about it.  Packing up oxygen tanks, walkers and other Paraphernalia is not the most fun-filled way to start the day.  Physically impaired in any manner, whether temporary or permanent, makes face to face connecting sometimes difficult.  Ask someone who has had an accident recently.  Got Crutches?  You know what I mean.   So, technology, now this a winner for anyone in that position.  At times,  I can  fall into that category so I know of what I speak.  

Epilogue:   Perhaps the most bothersome subject I find, is becoming far too wrapped up in that “electronic cloak of technology”, at the cost of ourselves.  New technology is fantastic as I have stated!  We mere mortals on earth will eventually discover all these gadgets have become a burden.  The Burden of time lost.  Hours spin away while just checking  mail.  The burden of financing this technology.  ATT or Verizon is not cheap.  Add up the yearly cost.  It is astounding.   The burden of Loss.  The harshest of all.  We  truly loose a part of the  personal connection we once had with  our family and friends.   If you can accomplish all of this and remain truly connected,  Bless you!

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