On Being Away and Connected

It has been something of a wild, weird, wacky, and wonderful week. It has also been one that has caused me to think a little bit more about our world and the ways in which I interact with it.

I write this while looking out of my 18th floor hotel window in Vancouver having visited a set for a movie yesterday that I can’t say anything about yet except that I was there. Sometime, probably next year, you can read all about it over at IGN.

I don’t come today though to write about that, because it’s only half the reason my week has been notable. You know that piece about running that I love referring back to? Yes, well, the whole thing culminated over the weekend when the wife and I ran a 5K at Walt Disney World. If you subtract the amount of time I spent waiting to get a photo with King Louie in the middle of the race, it was my best 5K time. Plus, after the scavenger hunt portion of the event, we found ourselves in the top 75 out of more than 1100 co-ed teams. We don’t race to beat other people, but I can’t complain at having done so.

During both these trips, I have spent time on the plane reading a book called “Present Shock” by Douglas Rushkoff. It deals with, in no small part, the ways in which our digital world has altered our sense of time and place. This is in no small part something of which I am acutely aware.

I am in Disney World, but I am in constant contact with folks back home which means that I’m not fully at Disney World. Then there’s Vancouver, where I didn’t pay for international data and consequently didn’t check my email for hours on end while on set yesterday. I was acutely aware of not checking in, and that made me not fully present either.

My wife has long advocated that I check my work email less and that we contemplate going a day or two on the weekend without checking at all. I just can’t imagine that this is a good plan.

I may work freelance now and have greater ability to set my own schedule, but it also means that I’m in charge of making sure that schedule gets filled. Email is how that happens. It is a requirement, and not being a billionaire who can shrug off the rest of the world and not worry about a mortgage, college for his kids, and retirement, not checking it is a luxury I don’t have.

Something of an aside but not really, as you are undoubtedly aware, the Apple Watch was recently released and the company has been promoting it as a way to be less out of the world while still being connected, that it is less intrusive. I can’t imagine how having another device is less intrusive, especially when it’s a device that truly limits your ability to interact with it, requiring you to pull out your phone when you want to do too much. And, if you don’t have your phone nearby, the watch isn’t going to do everything it should anyway. Don’t think that won’t be troubling.

There might come a day when I am less connected, when I write an article or book that makes me millions or have someone working for me who is connected so that I don’t have to be. There will definitely come a day when I am retired and don’t have to worry about those emails anymore, and that is more likely than any of the other scenarios.

Here is one truly important thing to note however – I am in no way angry at being connected. I want to be successful career-wise and if I’m not available I don’t think that I can be. It is the world in which we live. It might be better if the world were different, but I’m not the person to start that particular revolution.

Instead, I like to think of myself like The A-Team: if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… me. If I’m not connected, you can’t find me and you can’t hire me.

And now, I have a plane to catch.

photo credit: Apple

Categories: Random Thoughts

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2 replies

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