Are We Too Connected?

Let me start this post by saying–all is well with me. Having said that, a recent, (very recent,) trip to the emergency room has left me a bit shaken. Not because of any horrific incident or heinous injury or painful experience, but because of how completely and totally disconnected I  felt for the five hour ordeal.

There are two things everyone should know about hospitals in general. The first, expect to wait…and wait, and wait. The second, expect to be required to turn off your cell phone. Ah yes, the cell phone. A once rather large and cumbersome device, now a neatly packaged window to the world. The cell phone has become such a staple in our lives that it serves a variety of purposes. Our cell phones are our alarms,  our internet, our music players, our task managers, our calculators, our cameras, and even our camcorders. In fact a great deal of children even have one by the age of ten; and if they are anything like my cousin’s eleven year old son…they have owned four of them.

We use our cell phones to check in, check up, check out, and everything in between. It is no wonder that while sitting a mere five feet from my beloved device–I was beginning to panic. Granted, majority of my panic stemmed from the fact that not a single family member or friend was with me in the hospital. I felt I owed them the convenience of those courteously text messages to let them know I was doing fine. What was everyone thinking? Were they leaving me voicemails, were the texting me, would my phone be flooded with concerns and complaints when I finally exited the building and eagerly pushed the one button that would reconnect me with my friends and family?

To make matters worse I had left a message with my father telling him to call the hospital in a few hours if he had not heard anything. As I lay on the less than accomodating matress freezing my ass off and enjoying the black screen of a tv I apparently was not permitted to utilize, the nurses at the station were looking my way. A phone call had come in for me, hurray, I felt like ET contacting his planet, except I was not assisted by a sweet girl in pigtails to make the call out myself. The nurse placed my call on hold and gingerly walked in, removed the very old and very heavy telephone from the counter behind my back and placed it in my lap. After a brief conversation with my father it was taken away from me and placed once again on the counter.

The minutes ticked by, and then the hours. I vaguely remembered telling my dad I would call him and update him again after a few tests were run–my aggravation rose as I starred intently upon my purse sitting on the chair, and then to the bulky ancient clunk of junk on the counter. Neither was going to be useful any time soon. If any of you have ever actually spent any time in an emergency room, you quickly learn what must be nurse 101: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES MAKE CONTACT WITH PATIENTS UNLESS YOU ARE ACTUALLY ENTERING THEIR ROOM FOR A REASON. This prevents silly questions like: “May I use that phone in the corner for a moment to contact the outside?”

At one point I even attempted to use the FORCE to unzip my purse, rummage in the bag for the cell phone, float it over to me, etc. Of course that was fruitless. Knowing full well how non jedi I am…I then began to make circular motions across the top of the “Call the nurse,” red–don’t touch me unless you are dying, button. Do I press the button? I truly am on the verge of a panic attack. THERE ARE PEOPLE WORRYING ABOUT ME, I MUST LET THEM KNOW I AM ALIVE AND WELL. Most of you will have realized by now that I clearly do not trust the hospital to make the appropriate emergency calls–lets just say I had some bad experience with that on a previous visit.

So here I am expecting the monitor to start beeping out of control as my pulse or blood pressure shoots up just because I have sat for four hours with virtually no contact with another human being. My thoughts are over powering me and my mind is racing. All I can think about is talking to someone–anyone, even that orderly who stood off to the side also avoiding my eyes. It was like a desire to just constantly update and post my status change–to dare I say it, even TWITTER. Thankfully at some point I drifted off into a slumber and some of my babbling incoherent thoughts ceased.

This experience has made me realize just how deeply embedded technology is in my own existence; how dependent I truly am on the instant gratification I get from sending and receiving a quick text message from my desk, or responding to individuals on Facebook or Myspace during my breaks. Recently the idea that blogging has become an acceptable platform for the written word has been  some what humorous to me. A change in times I thought to myself…but is it really all that much of a laughing matter if I cannot sit in silence for five hours?

Eight months ago I did not even have a cell phone and today nowadays I have a meltdown if I leave it in the house when I am on the way out the door. Come to think of it, every single social gathering I have been to–be it at someones home, a bar, a restaurant–each and every0ne of us still flips our phones out and sends our little text messages. Are there individuals out there who would still consider that rude? I personally have grown so accustomed to it I never even notice anymore.

Here is a perfect example. Friday night was girls night. Movies, junk food, music, whatever came to our minds–and we were staying in. Half way through the night I realized how heartless our attempt was–both of us were continuously texting some male throughout the night. I think I want to propose a new rule–if you are out to a party, out to dinner, or even just over someones house visiting–perhaps turn the cell off, maybe even leave it in the car.

I mean as a society it is pretty bad when we all still consider sneaking our cell phones in the ER when a sign is posted that CLEARLY tlls us to turn them off as to not effect someone’s pace maker or whatever excuse they give. I felt guilty the entire time I desired mine. Sometimes the other people in your life can just wait. Especially if you are trying to make sure yours is okay.

eelliso1 is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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9 Comments

Filed under science, Uncategorized

9 responses to “Are We Too Connected?

  1. Soahki

    This was an interesting & enjoyable read! Yes, incidents like this can really make us aware of some of the details of our lives which we normally take for granted and don’t stop to think about, such as your dependence on technology to constantly “check in” with people. Great insights!

  2. Thanks for sharing this informative post with us. Im sure that many people searching for this . I will visit that nice blog again

  3. jakefunc

    I think our behavior in regards to the devices/technology is the problem, not devices/technology themselves/itself.

    Cell phones are an amazing convenience and borderline necessary. Facebook, though oftentimes juvenille and stupid, is excellent for social networking. It is we who take something that could be used ‘occasionally’ and turn it into a habit as bad as chain smoking.

    You may also consider the ‘decay’ of communication that occurs; the level of sincerity or thoughtfulness is lowered, and texting could be considered somewhat brainless. Perhaps thats a personal failing on my own part though.

  4. davidrsheehan

    Good points, Jake. I agree – technology isn’t capable of being problematic… only its use can be.

    • eelliso1

      I was in no way implying technology to be the problem. I was merely trying to illustrate the dynamic many of us have reached with technology. It completely and totally has become something like an addiction for some of us, not all that different from say a video gamer for example.

  5. Po

    It seems as through technology further exploits our own obsessive compulsive tendencies. While I THINK that I love modern technology, I can’t help but wonder if we’d be happier without it.

  6. First let me say I was very humored by your hospital account and description of the agonizing amount of time it takes to simply sit and wait in a hospital, let alone how long tests and such take.

    I think if technology were stripped there would at first be mass chaos lol. People would not know how to function. Slowly I think perhaps they would learn how to be more independant , and maybe more personel. The phones and computers of the world make it obsolete to actually have to see a person face to face.

  7. KevinKMJr

    I had to come back to this one as my wife and I went camping and caving in central Pennsylvania this past weekend. You should have seen the confused look on her face when I announced it to be an “unplugged weekend.” From the moment that we left our driveway until the moment that we came home, we shut off our cell phones and remained disconnected for an entire weekend. God did it feel good!

  8. Some of my favorite daydreams include running over cell phones, taking hammers to computers and tossing tvs out windows… until, you know, I have to write a gargantuan review paper and then I sing my praises to the gods of internet for saving me from ridiculous stacks of journals. Our sci-tech progress and ways of life that we have become accustomed to make it almost impossible to live disconnected while still keeping up-to-speed and “in the game” so to speak.

    I nuked my online social networks some time ago. The computer is used at night only to watch instant plays (no cable). The cell phone goes largely ignored.

    I long for quiet, stillness and simple experiences… I type on the computer. I use it because it is here, because I need to use it for work anyway, because some distant communication is more than worth while. But really, I desire a peace that the wireless world and some of its biggest fans don’t understand.

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