My friends, right now, they’re at a Wichita bar called the Anchor, celebrating our friend Barett’s birthday. My brother (also in Wichita): he’s totally jealous I’m going to see Kool Keith this Friday in Seattle. Yesterday, my best friend’s bulldog got nearly-mauled by our former neighbor’s dog. Miles apart, in different timezones. And we still know.
I bet you can see your mobile phone right now. While you’re at a computer — with the world at your fingertips — your phone is your crutch, it’s in your pocket, in your sights, within reach at all times. It’s your connection to your son that’s away at college, your wife that’s in Italy on business. You know they aced the test, went shopping and ate chocolate mousse for dessert.
You’re in the club, but, then, I’m sure you have been for a while. The club of being always on. Always connected, always in the know. I hope you’re happy. This is the end of anticipation.
The term, as far as I can tell, was first presented in Naomi Baron’s book Always On. Because of mobile phones, not to mention the internet, we spend increasingly less time “away” from each other. Even if that time being together is virtual, we need not wait days for a letter to arrive (or take the time to write said letter) or wait until we reunite in person to share the momentous — or minuscule — details of our lives.
The sharing of our lives via mobile technology — particularly simple, speedy text messages — enables us to live with each other, without living near each other. We are never alone, never far from our family and friends, even if they span the globe.
So, does absence make the heart grow fonder? If I refrain from mobile communication with my pals and family, will I miss people/appreciate people/look forward to visits home more?
Nah. Rather than supplanting face-to-face communication, mobile communication lets us pick up where the text discourse left off. And visa versa.
Will it redefine the way we handle relationships and our in-person encounters? You betcha. We’re still humans. We still crave being around other humans, especially those that we actually enjoy: those that send us the most texts. Rather than pouring over the last three months of our lives, leaving out the silly details we’d forget three months later that seemed funny/important/relevant at the moment a text was sent, we can rehash, ask detailed questions, relive the moments we witnessed via mobile. Mobile communication makes our lives, if we so choose, more intimate than ever before.
Does being constantly on, always connected, living with those that are who-knows-how-far-away from us have its consequences? Most def. We have less time for our own thoughts if we’re always fiddling and wasting time on our mobiles instead of soaking in our own thoughts. And, in those moments we are face-to-face with those we haven’t seen in a week, a month, a year, we’re likely to be fiddling with the phone still. This is the dance the mobile phone has choreographed for society, and so many of us fall in line for it.
I’m on my phone. A lot. It’s my favorite time-waster while I’m commuting and so long as I use it for good (living with my friends from afar), and not for evil (distracting my listening abilities from real humans), I’m okay saying I can’t live without it.
Originally posted on Midwest by Northwest.