Is always being “connected” good?

There is a company that Realtors and many others use to stay in touch with their past or future clients called Constant Contact. The company specializes in using electronic and paper-based messages to keep your name and product in front of people. One technique is called a drop-mail program, which is sort of like the Chinese water torture that the name conjures up in the imagination. Constant Contact keeps drip, drip, dripping emails and/or paper mail notes to the recipients until the give up and buy something or use the services being advertised. At least, that is the theory.

Our lives have evolved over the last couple of decades to include the concept of being constantly in touch, being connected somehow. For a while it was through emails and the “Crackberry” became the tool of choice for those who became hooked on constantly checking their email. More recently, of course, the smartphone and aps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp have dominated our time and attention. We are morecouple-looking-at-phones connected than ever. But, is that a good thing?

Stories about distracted walkers getting hurt or distracted drivers getting into accidents, sometimes very bad accidents, would suggest that being this connected in not good. We may laugh at the videos of people walking along fixated on their phone until they walk into a fountain or out into traffic, but it is really not funny. It is certainly not funny to see people blow through a stop sign or light because they are looking at their phone. What we don’t see are eh countless other hours a day that these people are oblivious to the people and event around them because they are absorbed in their connected world of their phone.

It is not just dangerous physically to be so focused upon that world, it is harmful and dangerous to be that disconnected from real life. Social skills fall by the wayside and are left undeveloped. Communication skills become bastardized by the use of catch phrases, acronyms and whole thoughts being reduced to 2-3 letters that are easy to type. Face to face communications, where body language may be studied to help interpret the situation are replaced by screen time where misunderstandings are commonplace and emoji’s attempt to replace facial expressions.

Of course there are very good uses for our smartphones and I’m not advocating that we get rid of them. They are wonderful tools for finding information when you need it and they even allow for great communication with others when distance is an issue; however, they are no substitute for good, old fashion conversations face to

Emoji_Face-with-Pleading-Eyesface with others. Don’t let you phone take over your life. Remain in control of it as a tool; otherwise it can become your master and lead you into electronic isolation. Maybe there’s a three letter word for that – SPS (SmartPhone Syndrome) –

So, maybe always being connected is not a good thing. Maybe it’s time to put down the phone, look up and see what’s really going on around you. Maybe you should put a smile on your face and say “Hi” to someone instead of ending an emoji to Wave at them over Facebook. You may be surprised how much more fun it can be to actually talk to someone, rather than sitting there typing away on your phone.

Oops, got to go. My phone just beeped. It might be something important. Or not. Someone wants to know where I am and what I’m doing. Maybe I’ll find out where they are and what they are dong. How exciting.

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