Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ever wonder if we are too plugged in?

I am heading to Charleston South Carolina in a few days for a long girls weekend and anticipating the charm of the Old South and the delicious taste of a cold mint julep. I am also looking forward to turning off my laptop for a few days.

Like so many tech junkies I have a daily routine, mine begins with enjoying a cup of tea while checking my email. Some mornings while perusing my email there may or may not be cold leftovers from last nights dinner or if I am lucky some fresh bread from the farmers market toasted and smeared with goat cheese. After I quickly check my multiple email accounts, 3 with Comcast (down from 5), 1 with Gmail (a new account) and 1 with Yahoo (a very old account) I am ready to check the rest of my online accounts. Daily I usually update Facebook, send a Tweet to Twitter, try and blog here on Blogger and read my latest feeds with Google Reader.

Weekly I try and update my Goodreads account to track what I am reading, check Instapaper and or SpringPadIt for articles I want to read online and check eBay for auctions I am watching or bidding on. Too much? Ummm ya. So how do we disconnect or can we?

The library where I work no longer carries copies of tax forms. Patrons can access the Internet from within the library and print out any forms they need from and Last year in an effort to Go Green I canceled my subscriptions to my local paper and the Chicago Tribune and instead visit their websites when I need a news fix. My investment reports and bills are online and any appointments I have are scheduled with Google calendar or Microsoft Outlook. I'm trying to think of anything besides books I actually read on paper anymore and any services that haven't gone electronic.

So is it possible to disconnect completely? When I am teaching my beginning email and Internet class to patrons, a few people are completely new to the Internet, some have an email address but don't know how to use it and then there are the patrons who have never used the computer and are still learning to use a mouse. As I show them how to access and navigate the Internet and how to open and send an email I always get the same questions. They want to know why they can't call a company anymore for customer service, why they instead have to send an email or fill out an online form. They are frustrated that coupons they used to get in the paper are now online and that when they buy an appliance or an airline ticket they have to provide an email address for a warranty or to print their ticket. It's a fact, in today's society it's almost impossible to disconnect.

In the next 48 hours as I prepare for my trip I will check in for my flight online, hire a cab through online reservations, make dinner and tour reservations online and check my flight status from my phone. Once I get to the airport I will check my email and update my Facebook and Twitter status from my phone and then hopefully....disconnect. At least until I get to Charleston when I have to check my email for dinner reservation confirmation, use the GPS on my phone to navigate the historic district and send pictures to my online albums documenting my trip. Seriously, maybe I will just leave my phone at home...

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