Arianna Huffington gave a keynote speech on the last day of ad:tech here in San Francisco last week on the idea of of unplugging from your technology. Ten years ago the debate was being too connected to the internet. Today, the debate has evolved to, are we too connected to our social electronic devices?
Ms. Huffington joked about people sleeping with their devices as a sign of this hyper-connected world which we live in. Behind every joke this is always a touch of seriousness. Are we too social, too hyper-connected?
People entering the work force from school have been socially trained to be connected and use technology as their way of socializing both on-line and off-line. A study from two researchers at UC San Diego point to the obvious social benefits of online social networks, but more specifically to the frequent occurrence of serendipitous social meetings facilitated by Facebook.
Let’s look at a typically socially connected, tech savvy person in my social graph. Typically, a good friend of mine, checks in to foursquare every place we go so that her social network can place her at that venue. She proceeds to take a picture of that venue. That picture goes to twitpic which gets shared on Twitter and to the other part of her social graph which facilitates a social conversation. With the smartphones, their apps, and the openness of the social sphere, this is the reality we live in. We are more connected to our local social graph and happenings than with what’s happening at a national scale as evidenced in the decline of the newspapers.
What Ms. Huffington is really pointing to is-Do we feel disconnected if we are not connected 24 by 7 to our social graph? This is the new ADD as Ms. Huffington calls it-Driven to Distraction by technology. However, technology does increase our productivity. So does our increase in productivity come at the price of distraction to the real world?
Of course. Many states have laws banning the use handheld devices and driving but their effectiveness has been mixed. Pedestrian accidents attributed to electronic devices are on the rise and states like NY & Arkansas are thinking of introducing a bill to banning the use of electronic devices on the street. We are definitely attached to our electronic devices.
These devices certainly have the ability to help us maintain relationships with others and keep us informed and it is the reality of the social world we are evolving to.
But, too much of a good thing is never good and being too connected may not be good for our well-being. Ms. Huffington suggested that we tap into a daily life balance “course correction” by tapping into our “joy triggers”-things that make you feel good. Paying attention to ourselves is just as important as those social sites that we obsess with. My friend mentioned above actually does a good job of life/technology balance and I should learn from it.
A little solitude and as Ms. Huffington says, “tapping into your joy triggers,” can sometimes be good for us to take a break and collect our own thoughts. This can never be achieved if we are connected all the time and the choice is yours. Maybe a way to monitor your well-being with technology is to get those iPhone blood pressure monitors. What are your thoughts?