Today's technology may be making us more connected than ever before, but are we putting our virtual worlds ahead of the here and now? How often do people talk or text on their cell phones when they should be paying attention to something else, like checking-out at the grocery store or driving a car? Shouldn't there be some boundaries to this constant availability?
We live in a society that expects the instant gratification of real-time connections. Congressmen tweet from the House floor, celebrities blog from behind the scenes, and everyone from teens to grandparents check in through Facebook or text messaging. While there's something to be said for quick communication, this constant connection leaves many people disconnected from their actual surroundings.
Chances are you've experienced the frustration of this disconnect first hand. Whether you've been ready to throttle someone else for their technoholism, or found yourself at the receiving end of some evil glares, it may be time to set up some communication boundaries:
1. No texting while talking to someone else.
If you've ever tried to carry on a face-to-face conversation with someone who is twiddling over their smartphone, you understand the rudeness of this multitasking misstep. If you are the offender, you may think that you are efficiently handling two conversations at once. You are not.
2. No texting or using smartphone apps during a movie or live performance.
Ringtones aren't the only way that a cell phone can interrupt a movie. Your neighboring viewers are usually distracted (and annoyed) by the glow of your phone in the darkened theater. If you can't sit through the show without fidgeting over your phone, you should wait and rent the DVD.
3. No texting or using smartphone apps while driving.
Yes, while driving. That should be obvious, but many drivers see nothing wrong with sending a quick text, or looking up directions while driving down the road. Pull over, use a hands-free device to call someone, or buy a GPS. Taking your eyes off the road isn't just rude, it could cost someone his life.
4. Evaluate your status.
Instead of tweeting or Facebooking every thought in your head, take a minute to think about what your friends want to hear. A non-spoiler endorsement of a movie will probably be appreciated. Graphic descriptions of your stomach flu, or cryptic messages about your loneliness, have ventured into the realm of too much information.
Take a look at your own level of virtual connection. What are your communication boundaries? If you have none, and the virtual world is your stage, your level of online connection might be keeping you from truly experiencing the real world. Take time to turn off your phone, smell the roses, and meet a friend for an uninterrupted conversation from time to time. Don't let virtual connections leave you disconnected.