When I got my first Blackberry, the first thing I did was disable the message that said, “sent from my Blackberry.”
Because, waaay back then, most phones didn’t do email. There was no expectation of 24/7 reachability, unless someone had your phone number. And, even then, you didn’t abuse the privilege by calling someone “for work” on a weekend or late at night just because you could.
Flash forward to 2010.
Pretty much every phone receives and sends email, surfs the web and texts. More and more allow you to get messages and notifications from Facebook, twitter, foursquare and other service that can don an app. You can create, read or edit documents, stream live video to the web or a conference and we’re just about to crack the edge of quality video chat.
Very Dick Tracy.
Which allows us to get sooo much more done. We can bang out a few emails in a cab, reply to a few DM’s at the kids’ soccer game, text and receive orders at the theater, tweak presentations on the fly and share them with the team.
But, along with the capability to be hyper-connected comes a certain disability…
We’ve lost the expectation of disconnection.
People expect us to be accessible all the time, to be reachable, to be responsive, to be on call…24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Disabling the message on my iphone that says “sent wirelessly from my iphone” is now meaningless, because there’s been a change in public consciousness. People assume unfettered reach. They assume our perpetual state is instant reception.
And, that’s not always a good thing. Because, we all need space.
We all need the opportunity to tune out the world and have the world expect not to be able to tune us in.
To pause. To enter that uninterrupted state of that yields the greatest creations, the greatest innovations and, at times, creates the space for recovery we all need on a fairly regular basis, yet rarely set ourselves up to take.
To just be able to step away and take full ownership of random moments, daydreams and experiences that belong to nobody but us.
When technology was more limited, it made these moments far easier to come by.
There was no expectation of constant access. And, no addictive taunt on our behalves to “check in…and in…and in.”
So, now that technology has reversed this expectation, we have a new choice to make. To set our own brain-based, rather than tech-based limitations on the expectation of connectivity. To turn off certain “push” notifications on our smart-devices. To choose how, when and where we decide to “pull” that information into our ever-expanding basket of digital stimuli.
We need to understand that the technology gives us options galore, but we are still charged with how we allow that technology to interact with our lives. We still get to set the rules and expectations. Curmudgeonly as it sounds, the only thing that rings, beeps, braps or vibrates on my iphone is phone calls. Everything else comes to me only when I ask it to.
And, once we remake our own rules, we need to take one more step…
Make our rules of digital engagement clear to those with whom we interact.
Question is, are you ready to do that?
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