On the road

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?

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps purpose-driven brands bring big ideas to life. She teaches at The Johns Hopkins University, has gone back to school herself with the Harvard Business Analytics Program, and is creator/lead instructor at The Social PR Virtuoso® online training hub , where ambitious PR pros learn how to unleash their inner Social PR superheroes. Owned by Lola the Basset Hound, she's mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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