NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, February 2008
Connected or Discombobulated?
Ramblings by Judy Lococo,
Director, Kentucky-Indiana PCUG

judy(at)thorobred.win.net (click to email author)

Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups.

Everywhere you look today, someone is always talking about ďconnectivityĒ and how our new, improved world demands it. The more I see of this phenomenon, the less I think we are connected. The Internet and identity thieves have made us a nation of anonymity, and paranoid anonymity at that. We are electronically connected, but are losing the ability to look into peopleís eyes, read their body English, listen to the voice inflections, and interact one-on-one with another human being.

Itís even impossible to keep up with all the acronyms! WiFi, DSL (I remember ADSL), URL, etc., have become entrenched in our lives so much that we no longer flinch when we hear one of them. And they keep stacking up at warp speed, so that even the nerdiest of us has to visit a website occasionally to find out what one means.

The morning newspaper used to be a shared experience at the breakfast table. Now itís read online with only the parts that a reader prefers coming across the screen, and you donít discuss your opinions with the rest of the family, nor listen to theirs. You no longer have to scan through the business section to find the crossword puzzle. You donít have to pore through the sports pages to find automobile tires. IOW (another TLA), you donít even have to talk to a soul without being considered rude.

Going to an office is not nearly as important as it once was. Now employees can work an 80- hour-week at home, without health insurance or retirement benefits. But you can work in jeans or sweats, so thereís considerable savings on wardrobe.

The chat rooms are so rampant with predators that parents are restricting their childrenís surfing, and rightly so. But these chat rooms are yet another example of not connecting with a real, live, breathing person, only an image, which may or may not be accurate.

Email has replaced letter writing to the extent that I have to wonder if script handwriting will also be obsolete soon. Remember calligraphy? Have you seen any within the last three years? Will the dictionary of the future have ďu r 2Ē as a comeback phrase? Will schoolchildren even be taught English grammar or typing?

And, of course, how could I not mention the answering machines, voice mail, and all other means of not speaking to people who are trying to contact you. If you reach a person on the first attempt, are you supposed to believe that person is not busy? Is this why nobody bothers to answer their phone any more, only return phone calls? If all one does is return phone calls, what happens when the one youíre calling also only returns phone calls?

As if all the time spent behind a monitor isnít enough, our automobile windows are now designed to keep others from seeing you. So if there is actually a person around who is considerably higher up on the social ladder than you are, you have to roll your window down for them to see you! How gauche is that?

I have to admit, Iím just as guilty as the rest of the world of spending too much time on email and INet (look it up already...) It is a lot of fun to laugh out loud at a joke that somebody forwards, or follow a link to a You Tube video. I am not addicted, but afraid of what will I will have to face if I donít check it daily. I guess you could say Iím not connected, Iím tethered.

This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

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