15 November 2010

Connectivity, but at what price?

Note: I wrote this Friday, November 12, but blogger wasn't cooperating and I couldn't post.
I like to be connected as much as the next person, but I’m starting to wonder what 24/7 connectivity is doing to us. Texting in the classroom has been a problem for several years. I frequently notice students furtively communicating with friends or even cheating on tests.
A week ago we had a blackout at school. We were without power, and therefore, network connection for two hours. We literally could not work in either yearbook or newspaper classes. ALL of the work we do is online. The only thing we don’t do online is interview people. Notes are transcribed online, stories are written online using GoogleDocs, pages are designed on the computer and stored on our common drive. It was nice to be able to sit and talk about what was happening, but we got behind.
Today, as my husband and I went to breakfast at our hotel, we noticed a young woman eating alone. Her phone was constantly beeping as new text messages came in. For awhile the messages were coming in on top of each other so her phone was singing.  As I sit in a coffee shop in the town we’re visiting, a woman brought in her two boys for breakfast. Almost immediately she was on the phone while her boys were left to fend for themselves. When they started arguing, as young siblings do, she hung up the phone, but was most upset with the kids. I see other examples too; the man in the grocery store talking as he’s picking up a few items, the people driving while on the phone (which is illegal, by the way), the people walking down the street with heads down texting away.
Though it seems we’re connected with those around us, are we really? Really, it looks more like we’re connected with people who are far away from us rather than those who are with us. What do you think? Is our connectivity in the virtual world impairing our connectivity with those who are in our immediate proximity?