[23 June 2008]
As a tech-head, I can’t resist the blissful imagination of articles like this one from PBS where they consider the idea of a Technological Sabbath for all of us to take. For anyone else who is wired to the Net day and night, there’s definitely some appeal in such an idea. When I go on vacation, if a cyber-cafe is around and it’s not too expensive, I admit that I go check my mail and news for a 1/2 hour or so- that’s not too bad, right? But similarly, if I go with my friends to a cabin that’s far from any Net access, I don’t go through withdrawal if I’m not online- I just dread coming home and going through 100’s of messages, trying to sort out what’s trash and what I want to read. Part of the problem for us overwired folks is that too much of our lives take place online, making it more difficult to disconnect. As much as we may curse and complain about the Net, the fact still is that we’re heavily invested in it in many ways- we have a lot of friends and family that we connect with and a lot of work that we do online only.
The problem with trying to disconnect, even temporarily, is that technology is constantly chasing after you, looking to permeate your non-Net world. It isn’t just that TV’s are becoming more and more wired (as explained in this recent Broadcasting Cable article) but also that we ourselves are spending more time online watching videos and less time with our ol’ TV sets as explained in these articles from Variety and Times Online. ADDENDA: as is typical with the Net now, even though eyeballs are migrating online, as this excellent SF Gate story explains, there’s still confusion about how to make money there.
Add to that the cell phone companies that are trying to cram more and more music and video content into their products and there’s no escaping it- all forms of media are ready to take with you everywhere and anywhere (and we’re not just talking about iPhone either but also every other provider, especially Verizon). And how much are we going to resist the temptation with the Net being portable? Bored for a minute? Want to find some info quick? How easy it is to whip out a phone and just look up everything.
I don’t think it’s necessarily for the worse though. Not just the boredom factor but also the ability to look up useful info (weather, locations, events) is something that we all have a need for at some time or another. The thing I wonder about is how it’s going to change our lives if we’re always wired and connected. I’m not a conspiracy theorist who’ll tell you that da man is going to be able to track us but I do think there’s gotta be some implications about how it will effect us socially on a personal and societal level. Lots of room for head scratching here but it’ll definitely be interesting to see how this pans out.
Back to the idea of the tech sabbath though… It’s a good idea in theory but it’ll be harder and harder to do obviously. I do think we all need a break from our small screens every now and then throughout the day just so we don’t go loopy and our eyes don’t bug outta our heads. A tech break is definitely warranted through the day and necessary, not to mention more realistic.