disconnect to connect

My iphone wakes me up in the morning.
I then check email, facebook, twitter, 4square, and instagram.
All of this happens when my eyes are half open and my brain is still asleep.

In transit to work, 7 out of 10 people on the train look at their phone. this number would undoubtedly be 10/10 if the MTA's free public wifi decoy signal actually works. 2 of the 10 read actual books. I knit. Admittedly only because of the lack of wifi.

The elevator I take up to my office tells me the latest CNN headlines of the day and weather report, which I also check after shower on the iphone daily via txt. By 10:30am i will have updated myself with everything that happened during the day from my friends in Thailand. By 1:00pm, I will have likely posted a few happy birthdays, responded to a few more comments, and updated both my twitter and facebook statuses separately (because they have separate audiences). Occasionally, I even do the linkedIn one. All of this happens in parallel to adium, which incorporates AIM, gTalk, MSN, and Bonjour all into one nifty interface so no one is left out of being able to reach me. Skype is also on. Luckily the average number of emails I get daily is manageable. By 4:00pm, at least 10 people will have uploaded random pictures they took on Instagram, at least 5 people will have checked in on 4sq or facebook places. I never go anywhere without google maps. Shopping in stores now annoy me. Calling actual humans to deliver food feels archaic. Yelp tells me where to eat and I listen to it religiously. Primo Spot tells me where I can park my car and remembers my spot weekly. I want to be able to click to feed myself, dress myself, socialize with friends, and get paid. 

I go out with friends. All coordinations happen over text messaging. People nowadays find it acceptable to send text and check your phone at the dinner table. At the bar, anyone flying solo are almost always looking at their smart phones. The first thing you reach out to when your company steps off to the restroom is your phone. People can't wait to check in to 4square when they arrive at places. Sometimes this phenomenon happen in groups - different people sitting at the same table, all occupied with their online lives. 

I am not alone. I am not the most online-obsessed. There are many like me. Some worse.

When did we become this way? Why do we need to always be connected? Why do we mingle with those we reach out to virtually at the expense of the people we are physically with.. Why does it matter that xx number of people wishes us happy birthday on our facebook wall? How many of those people send text? How many of those make the time or take the time to actually be with us?

A few days ago in Vail I was sitting across from specialK at aprés. He pulled out his iphone and did the usual "checking into the phone and out of what's around him". Eventually I grab my phone to do the same, only to get a txt msg from him "ur cute". In that moment I can't help but wonder what human communication will be like 5 years from now. 

This is an ad from a telco in Thailand. The last tagline (in Thai) says "shut down so you can open up to those around you.". The message is universal, powerful, and put forth a question worth asking.