If you were to walk into a train station, anywhere in Vancouver, or anywhere in the developed world, you would see hundreds of people gathered. And most of these people gathered would be talking and connecting with others. And if you were to look, you would see that they are not connecting with one another, but to someone else, in a different place, probably miles away. Blackberries, cell phones, iphones, palm pilots, laptops, facebook, text messages: you name it and you’d see it. As a society, we have become so focused on keeping in touch through various technologies, that we are actually losing touch with our own realities. This is what Sherry Turkle is speaking of in her article “Always-On/Always-On-You: A Tethered Self”.
Turkle suggests that when we have personal phone conversations in a public place, we ignore all those around us, assuming that they are doing the same to us. We talk on cell phones and send text messages to people, but we all ourselves off from the living, breathing people sitting next to us on the bus. What have we come to if out public manner is to ignore others, and to go on as if we are encased in our own private, sound proof bubble? We are ignoring those in the real world and we are staying that those whom we are connected to through our technology should be given the priority. We sway we are “connected”, but the truth of the matter is, that while we live and breathe moment by moment, we are furthering the disconnection between who we are with those closest in proximity to us. We interrupt real conversations to answer a cell phone. We disengage ourselves in class to quickly check our emails or facebooks. We are ignoring real and true connections.
We are at a point where there are people who don’t even live in this world anymore, but rather online. Through programs like Second Life, people cans simply ignore the real world, and dive into the virtual world. They can meet new people, have careers, relationships and so one without even leaving their couch.
At some point in time, and there will come a time, when we realize that the “always-on/always-on-you” ohenomenon is not appropriate. There will come a time when it is no longer acceptable to excuse yourself from a business meeting to answer a personal phone call. There will come a time when we realize the importance of “being present” in the moment. And when that time comes, we will have to learn how to re-build our real-world connections.