In the last 10 years, technology has us totally interconnected. Social networking of all kinds – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Reddit and, of course, texting on all kinds of different platforms such as iPads, iPhones, smartphones, and computers of all kinds. But are we really more connected? As I sit in the airport I notice that everyone and I mean everyone, is looking at their device. On the first leg of my journey today, a very interesting woman discussing quantifying the difference between collecting email addresses and the necessity to get first and last names. I think she was talking about and planning a culinary event. Organic or some other farm to table affair and the gist of the conversation was mostly about getting the word out to the right people. The terms acquisition and venture capital were mentioned several times and apparently, the whole process was happening on their "site". It wasn’t like I was eavesdropping, been on a plane lately – they are tighter than ever! The only way I could not have heard this conversation would be if I was talking to someone else. Upon looking around the plane, I realized there was no one in my area to make small talk; they were all looking down ...doing ....you know what…. When we were asked to power down our devices, I noticed my neighbor discreetly continued to communicate via text, right up until the moment of takeoff. I wanted to ask her about this event and the gathering of pertinent information via the web. I wanted to tell her that I too was involved in a web based business and compare notes.... We were in the midst of setting up a raffle copter to find teachers who would give feedback for a great app. Well, at no point during the flight did I feel comfortable disturbing her device and earbuds to chat and make small talk. Nothing was exchanged other than how great the bulkhead seat is for legroom. Two hours later I found myself at an establishment a far cry from my favorite airport bar and café, Vino Volo, and once again at this unnamed café bar, everyone was glued to their devices. The young man sitting next to me was speaking on his phone the entire time he sat next to me. The couple on my left were each on their own devices and not conversing, although later they did share a video from one of their iPhones and laughed together. The gentleman right behind me sitting at the high top table was on his laptop the entire time. All of this didn’t bother me as that is usually what I am doing while at the airport. There was no room anywhere or I would have been writing myself. This quote from Christopher Goldsbury from InfoQ resonates with me, even if everything about my trip was about tech.... Computers vs Reality: We're reinventing the real. It already exists. Take Facebook for example. We already have social networks, but by abstracting it to a computer we distance ourselves from ourselves. We're not growing our network...we're atrophying our most fundamental human skill: communication. On the second flight of the day, humanity proved to still exist as the guy next to me was periodically leaning over me to make sure his son was all right. I asked him if he was from New York, and no he was from California and not headed to New York but to Malawi with his son to do some volunteer mission work. I got more details and, of course, told him how much I admired him for exposing his young son to such a wonderful experience. I learned that Malawi is a small country in southeast Africa and is among the world's least-developed countries as well as one of the most-densely populated due to its open door policy for allowing in refugees. We didn’t talk for long, but I also learned his name was Matt and that he and his son had made this type of trip before with the same organization helping the Malawian people to work toward independent sustainability. I find meeting people like this incredibly inspiring and it gives me hope for our children and the future. A stranger gave me assurance that our society is not entirely device driven. I do think that we as a whole need to look up occasionally to enjoy the moment we are living in. No doubt technology has altered our society greatly in a multitude of ways, some not positive. Want more, read 7 signs we are too dependent on technology or Do You Think Kids Have Too Much Technology These Days? What are your thoughts about this? I'd love to know.
Written by Jayne Clare
Jayne Clare is dedicated to being in the forefront of the ever-changing digital landscape. She has been working directly with students and startups and recognizing what works and what doesn’t, along with the why behind both. Jayne co-founded Teachers With Apps in 2011.