Monday, February 23, 2015

Hyper Connectivity

This post is #4 in a #17 post series about workcations. The learn more about workcations and see the full eBook, check out Workcation. Have the best life now! on Amazon. It's free to borrow, if you have a Kindle device or Amazon Prime. 

As more and more of us understand that time is the most valuable commodity, we seem to cram it with the need to maximize every moment. We text, post updates, send snaps, email and take 100 pictures every day. These countless needs of reaching out and staying in touch can distract us from the very essence of experiencing life.

Only ten short years ago, we lived in a world with limited social media. MySpace was the network of choice, instead of Facebook. We downloaded from Napster for free instead of paying $.99 cents per song from Apple’s iTunes. We enjoyed playing snake on a Nokia 3310, instead of playing Clash of Clans or Candy Crush on our iPhone 6. We were connected by technology, but not at the same pace that we are connected today.

In today’s society, interest can shift from one network to the next within a moment’s notice. Applications, such as OMGPOP’s Pictures with Friends can be created, sold for $210 million and then become valued at ⅕ of that value within a year. How could something so “valuable” could depreciate 80% within a year? Or SnapChat can scale from 5 million users to over 150 million users within a 6 month period. Today, networks grow faster than the speed of light, making it tougher for individuals to experience real light.  

        Take a look at cars around you next time you are at a red light. It’s amazing how many people will be looking down on their phones --either texting, responding to emails, or browsing the Internet to “connect” or “stay-in-touch” with others around them. When did our lives become so busy that we needed to receive constant updates from our world? Why is it important for us to be able to respond to messages in a moment’s notice? Is it okay if we respond in the next hour or even hour? ...Should I even suggest one day?

It doesn’t simply stop with our phones, tablets, and PCs. The desire to stay connected is transcending beyond traditional forms of device integration. Our cars are now equipped with applications to keep us connected and extend the cloud wherever we drive. Our homes are getting integrated with smart solutions, such as state-of-the-art thermostats and cloud streaming cameras to make them more efficient and continually share information with us. Wearable devices, such as Apple’s iWatch, will fuel the next generation of hyper connecting.

The rise to stay in touch and connected didn’t simply arise with the modern smart phone. In fact, technology’s integration into society can be traced back to the early 20th century, when telephones replaced the Morse Code as a form of constant and personal communication. The rise continued in post-World War II as the housing baby boom gave way to the birth of the personal computer.  Over the next 30 years, the personal computer evolved and slowly integrated its way into suburban households. Although it took decades for this transformation to unfold, it is the next few decades that really accelerated the integration of personal connection with technology. It all unfolded with the birth of the commercial Internet, which allowed allow individuals and consumers to connect via email, personal websites, and early social networking sites. In the blink of an eye, the Internet quickly started to transform that way we interacted and spent our time.

As individuals used the Internet and purchased more technology devices to connect to their friends, family, business contacts, and acquaintances, it created an intersection between civic engagement and social contact. The lines quickly started to blur between personal and technology connection points. The critique of this intersection was noticed by sociologists, Anabel Quan-Haase and Barry Wellman in the 2002 report, How Does the Internet Affect Social Capital. In the study, the two sociologists discuss this convergence between social contact, interpersonal communication, such as phone calls and personal encounters, and civic engagement, time spent enjoying community and political activities, such as sports or business clubs. Although some may argue the accelerated intersection between social contact and civic engagement can be viewed as an advancement in society, Quan-Haase and Wellman discovered that this intersection can erode and discourage from real-world involvement and participation within society. This erosion is caused by the need to feel less motivation to participate in the real world as technology makes it more convenient to connect.

As the pendulum shifts from real-word communication and participation to electronic participation, the hyper connectivity continues to accelerate. Today, millions of mobile phones are added to the network each day, adding more points of contact are added to the system, which increases the amount of messages that are connected or “hyper connected,” a term coined by Quan-Haase and Wellman to convey the person-to-person and person-to-machine connection.

As this acceleration increases, the main question to ask yourself is …how do you connect? How do you chose to spend your time connecting and interacting with others? How much of your time is spent on TV, the Internet? Texting? Playing video games? Or casually browsing social media? No matter, how you spend your time, remember each pastime you choose is your choice. You have the power to decide how and when to spend your time. 

To learn more about how you can enhance your life, check out Workcation. It's available to borrow for free via an Amazon Kindle.  

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