Being well-connected has different connotations these days. No longer is it about who you know the extent to which you are able to communicate with who you know. Today’s smart phones gives you powerful connection in the palm of your hand. Not to mention a camera and computing power that acts as a powerful creative force.
Since being entangled in the Christchurch earthquake in 2011, my cell phone has become something of a security blanket. With my phone close to hand I feel close to the people I will need if disaster struck or more mundanely need to check whether I have managed to remember all the things on my shopping list. Anything in the world seems possible these days if you have your smart phone, credit card and passport in tow. Even before I left for the UK I had packed off my long-suffering sister-in-law to sort out a UK sim card so I could stay fully connected even whilst away from home.
Seems that WiFi or data connectivity is one of the most valuable modern commodities. The ability to entertain yourself and stay productive on the move is a wonderful thing. There is a constant tap, tap, tap wherever you go. Even if people are taking this to the limits by texting whilst driving or walking blindly across streets.
I’ve noticed of late how there is a stampede for people to reconnect with their smartphones the moment that planes touch down or breaks occur in meetings. Certainly WiFi was one of the things I tried to find on arrival at Los Angeles airport as the means to update my nearest and dearest but in truth is was as much to feel less alone among strangers in an unfamiliar place.
I watched the movie Her flying from Auckland to Los Angeles. It’s a story about how a guy falls in love with the operating system on his computer. No, really! Set in the not to distant future the intelligent operating system is almost like having a real life person to connect with except they are inside his computer even though that doesn’t stop him from building a relationship with his OS, called Samantha. The big message of the movie is about intimacy in the modern world and how people may come to rely on technology and not other humans to build relationships.
Who knows whether in the future you can use connectivity to isolate yourself from other people around you. For now, its good to have such a high level of connectivity with people you know for real. Certainly to converse with family and friends across the world by FaceTime and Skype brings a depth to communication not possible with asynchronous communication such as email and messaging and even better than speaking by phone. Also to reach almost limitless information in the palm of you hand with a few strokes of the keys can take the stress out of being in unfamiliar places whilst using social media can make you part of a crowd even when you’re on your own.