by Mary Jo
It's a wired, wired world! Communications have changed amazingly in a double handful of years.
It started with e-mail as the "killer app" of the world wide web. Then wireless communications came in. Several years back, when Blackberries were state of the art, the satellites that carried them (I think that's what it was) went down, and a mighty howl of horror and anguish was heard from users across the land.
These days, it's all about mobile devices--cell phones that are really tiny, incredibly powerful computers. For younger users, texting is the "killer app." Some kids send more texts per months than I can even imagine.
BUT--what happens when we're cut off? Not everyone is addicted to being connected, but there are certainly plenty of people who are. (I was amazed that my state felt the need to pass a law making it illegal to text and drive at the same time. To me, it seems insane to even think of texting when driving a massive and murderous machine.)
But this isn't a rant about the evils of cell phones, but rather thoughts on being disconnected. I knew before we cruised the upper Amazon that we couldn't expect any kind of wifi or cell phone service. I was prepared and thought it would be interesting to be off the grid.
And so it was. Relaxing, too. More like being in one of my historicals, where the world is what's here, now. It didn't hurt that I knew that after a week, we'd be back in Lima in a nice modern hotel with wifi.
It has been very different when I've traveled to a place where internet connection was theoretically possible, but for some reason I haven't been able to sign on. THEN the addiction and withdrawal blaze forth.
One of the worst place was the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary II. It was a great trip, but I didn't realize that a moving target in the middle of an ocean does not have good connectivity. In fact, it was sporadic to non existent. Not fun. (Don't even mention of power outages!!! Or the times the cable broadband goes down. <shudder>)
On the plus side, after crossing the ocean we went to Ireland, and I was able to read and reply to email while cruising Irish highways. (Not driving, I might add!)
I can rationalize the need for connection by the fact that I run a business and staying in touch with editor, agent, et al is important. The world is now used to very fast communication, and if you don't reply quickly, others get worried that you've been eaten by alligators or some such.
There are any number of small but legitimate business matters that buzz by regularly and need to be dealt with. Questions from my editor or other people at the publisher. Offers for foreign rights sales that I need to approve. Questions relating to my indie publishing of my backlist.
All those things are real and must be dealt with, but the fact remains that I'm an addict and e-mail is my drug of choice. Not texting or various other forms of communication or social media. Just old fashioned email.(Well, I do write historical novels, and these days e-mail looks fairly historic. <G>)
So what about you? How wired are you? If you're reading this blog, you clearly have some degree of electronic dexterity. How much do you depend on the web of connectivity that spins around the world? Do you check your Facebook page before you brush your teeth? Are you getting joint problems in your thumbs from texting? Do you rely on Skype to keep in touch with distant relatives, and would you freak if you couldn't do it?
Most of all, how do you feel when that communication is cut off? Have you had spells when you were off the grid? In the desert, or the jungle, or at sea?
Do you voluntarily cut yourself off for periods of time? If not, would you like to? I'm interested in how other people connect to the connectivity. So please share. I suspect I'm not the only addict here!