By the time you read this, I will be on my way to an area hospital where my husband has a minor surgical procedure to undergo.
It’s nothing major, but he’ll need a ride back, so I’m going with him to make sure he’ll be ok and gets home instead of mysteriously landing up at the used record store he loves to frequent.
Because we have NO more room for records in our entertainment room/library/office.
At least, not until the basement has been modified into his “man cave.”
(The vinyl is in the built-in bench you see, plus on the shelf, and the black books each contain a gazillion CDs and yes, I insisted on labeling them. There are more, but you can’t see through the chair.)
But not offline
However, you might hear from me during the day.
Knowing how these things go, I had the foresight (stupidity?) to ask the hospital, via Twitter, if they had wi-fi.
Title image: Brad Montgomery via Flickr, CC 2.0
To my surprise, they responded.
So I am armed with my MacBook Pro, complete with Snow White’s Revenge decal (I love this thing and it was five bucks, the decal, I mean), and my Mac accessories in my matching BuiltNY microdot sleeve and accessory case, and my Siamod Monterosso Collection Serra Ladies Laptop Tote.
None of that was product placement, by the way. A gal’s gotta have style, even in a hospital.
What struck me, as I tweeted AdventistHC, was my desire to be connected when I should really be okay with being offline.
Part of it is that hospitals are very boring places to be stuck in, though the few times I’ve heard “Code Blue” over the PA system, it’s come from an extremely calm voice with none of the jingle-jangle you see on TV shows.
But of course, I wouldn’t know, not being behind the scenes.
Part of it is that my work depends on my being connected, and while I have an “out of office” message on my email (so don’t email me today!), I still want to get what work I can done.
Have we gotten to the point where not being connected 24/7, no matter what we go, what we’re doing, makes or breaks us?
Yesterday, I asked if our expectations about being connected online, no matter where we are, have changed over the years.
Jeff Crites said (on LinkedIn)
John Friedman and Jill Foster said (on Facebook)
On Twitter, Rebecca Leaman said
Another of my contacts responded to Jeff’s comments on LinkedIn, asking if he ever felt “too” connected.
His response was,”What I want is to always have the ‘option’ that connectivity allows, without always using that option.
“Being connected, to me, doesn’t necessarily mean I’m Tweeting, FBook messaging, etc. It means I have set up a structure that enables me to access my ‘digital life’ at any given time of the day, anywhere I am.
“The key is knowing when to ‘look away’ from the digital world and experience the brick and mortar stuff right in front of you.”
Two sides of the coin
I see both sides. My expectations are probably along the lines of Jeff’s, where I want to have the option to be able to connect, even if I don’t actually do it.
Like Jill, I try to maintain some boundaries so that I can reboot and recharge.
I’m not always very good at it though, so invariably I will get to the point where I have to shut down (i.e. disconnect) completely for a few days, and then it takes me a while to get back to full “connected” mode.
This isn’t a new debate
but it’s an ongoing one.
On the one hand
we want to be everywhere, do everything, talk to everyone.
On the other hand
we are aware that what makes us human, what makes us real, is when we connect not just online, but face-to-face, eye-to-eye.
One of the reasons I was so excited to fly Virgin America to last year’s PRSA International Conference was because of the on-board wi-fi.
I even banged out a blog post about it.
On my way back, though, I couldn’t do it. I sent some emails, but for the most part, I dropped off the grid.
Because sitting in an airplane, tens of thousands of miles above the earth, where we are visibly reminded of how fleeting life is, is one of those places where we should be able to disconnect… or so it seems to me.
But if we have the ability to connect, we will. Because we can.
We’ll see how today works out. If you hear from me on Twitter or Facebook, it means…
Well, I don’t know exactly what it means.
What does it mean?
Just caught up with this thread! I really appreciate your advice :) Especially, “[don’t] worry about it too much and you’ll find you’ll fall into a pattern”. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
You’re most welcome. I know that wasn’t the most “measurable” advice, but sometimes we just need to stop worrying and do.
Great that you have approached this subject with so much honesty!
As a relative newcomer to social media and having only started my career a year ago the ”˜how connected’ question has been one of my biggest brain teasers this past 12 months.
I see the discussion as split down the lines of personal and professional life. In my personal life I want to be contactable, so my parents can call or my mates can arrange a catch up over a beer. I hope they are contactable too. The ways in which I am contactable have changed over the years (landline>mobile>Facebook & mobile) but the time I dedicate to it has remained the same.
However, in my professional life I am nowhere near as definitive in my stance. Being at the beginning of my career, enthusiastic and motivated I find it difficult to go offline when there is SO much to read and digest. My desire to learn about healthcare communications, keep up to date with the news, policies, politics and economics pushes me to stay online ever longer.
Over the last two months my internet usage has soared due to a new smartphone and twitter commitments. As a result (and much nagging from the girlfriend) I have begun to question whether my drive is misdirected. Much of my learning revolves around understanding the current status of a problem and trying to find a solution. As a user of PoincarÃ©’s Four-Stage Model of Creativity (conscious thought, unconscious thought (or incubation), illumination and verification) I can’t see constant online wanderings and stimulation as the way to finding those solutions.
What does this mean? Umm, maybe I’ll cut down. After all I succeeded in life without all this information. But what I miss out on something? That desire to learn and self-perceived peer pressure from my online acquaintances may keep me hooked. Ultimately though, when the professional crosses over into the personal you’ve surely got to question the value of being Ãœber-connected?
Alex – love your thoughts and YOUR honesty of sharing, thank you.
For me, personal and professional intersect all the time, and I don’t think I’ve ever been overly concerned with keeping the two separate. Friends become business associates; business connections become friends, and I love that. What I do try to do is manage those communications slightly differently; for example, if a friend starts talking to me about potential work, that becomes a separate email thread and is only conducted during business hours. We might still talk about personal stuff, but that is on a different email chain/communication channels. This might sound silly, but for me, keeping the conversations separate helps to keep the personas separate to some degree which, from a time management point of view, is important to me.
I think it’s easy to get lost in over-communication/being connected especially when one is newish to these platforms; because then it’s exactly what you say, it’s the fear that you might miss out on something that keeps you there all the time. I call that the social media honeymoon. It’s lovely while it lasts, and then real life sets in. So my $0.02 (or tuppence) would be to not worry about it too much and you’ll find you’ll fall into a pattern.
What helped me as I came out of the SM honeymoon period was to start setting boundaries on the time I spent online, and by online, I mean actually talking/responding on these platforms. I’m rarely not online, simply because my work needs me to be there, and even personal stuff (looking up things, buying tickets, etc.) demands it. But dropping off Twitter for a while, dropping off Facebook for a while, all these help. And the best way to do that, I’ve found, is to just not have them open. Then I can’t peek and get sucked in.
I rather like Jeff’s comment about liking to have the *option* to access his digital life, even if he doesn’t always choose to exercise that option. But for many of us, I’m afraid, the problem would be to dredge up the self-discipline to “look away” from the online world.
That’s why I stubbornly refuse to carry a cell everywhere: it’s a bit like putting a lock on the fridge to help you keep your spoon out of the ice cream. It may work, but it doesn’t do much to address the underlying issue. :-)
Hope your husband is soon on the mend!
Rebecca, Kami Huyse (@kamichat) said much the same thing on Facebook, except that she does have the self-discipline not to look at her phone even though she carries it everywhere.
Love the fridge analogy. And my husband is doing well, thank you!
Hi Shonali- it’s refreshing to hear someone articulate this trend. I think most of it has to do with the fact we have the option to connect more and connecting online is easier due to improved technology and infrastructures. While I appreciate the daily opportunities to connect with the many brilliant minds through the various means, I need to turn it off for a few hours at the end of the day. Mostly because it’s hard to saute and Tweet at the same time, but also because I need some “me” time. Hope your online/offline time is productive today!
Krista, I *think* I handled it ok. The wi-fi was easy enough to access, but because I had to keep going back and forth between the waiting room and surgical pre-op area, it was irritating to have to open and shut down over and over again. I did, however, catch up on quite a bit of reading, and you may have noticed I didn’t tweet very much from the hospital. So in that sense, I think it was productive.
I found when I got home, that I was really tired (no surprise, since when is a hospital visit energizing?), and needed to not look at the computer for a while. I did get back up online in the evening for a bit, but that was mostly to clean out my email a bit (which I haven’t responded to yet) and write today’s post.
So maybe I’m learning how to find a balance after all!