Are we too connected?

We had a discussion at work the other day about Twitter. I should explain that I work at an web interactive shop where we build sites, applications and email marketing tools for businesses, so everything on the online space is fairly well-known.

Actually, wait a minute. Do you know what Twitter is? No? Neither did most of the people in our office, save for myself and a few others. Essentially, it’s a site that you can post to people what you’re doing in 140 characters or less. Yep, it’s that simple. You can follow what others are doing and then, they can follow you. It’s a popular web app as far as I can tell, but there is one basic question that even I can’t answer. Luckily, my boss asked.

“So what’s the point?”

A major Twitter user in our group was in this debate with him and said, “It’s life between blogging” or something to that effect. She couldn’t understand why he didn’t get it and he didn’t understand why anyone would use it. After this lively chat, we all went about our day but one thing really stood out to me and it keeps slapping my brain right in its mug: we are way too plugged in and eventually, our collective culture is going to snap.

Think about it for a minute. We have texting and Instant Messenger all in several forms, both of which we can get on our Blackberrys and IPhones. On those phones, we can check and respond to emails and phone calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so being able to disappear is virtually impossible and has caused the call-screening phenomenon to be, well, an issue. Don’t forget the computers you have, which helped stem all of this! You can email, blog, share pictures, post on message board, be part of 100 social networks, Twitter, update people on your status in your IMs and even post videos of yourself within a few seconds.

In short, you can be everything and anonymous at the same time, all while letting everyone know what you’re doing at all times. Welcome to the the lifestyle of E-Voyeur, both from user and supplier.

Cheese and rice, there’s no wonder more of us don’t have road rage or go postal. There’s no escape to the addictive feeling of being needed in some form of fashion. I notice that whenever someone checks their phone, I do the same and vice versa. If I’m waiting in line for a few minutes, I might check my texts or emails. I even posted to our fantasy baseball site while sitting in a car wash last week. We have become so needed in our own heads that we create new ways to allow others to have 24/7 access to us, hence apps like Twitter.

An unfortunate bi-product is that we are more impatient than ever before. We need to know everything yesterday and being surprised is becoming a lost art. Movie spoilers, upcoming storylines on TV, sports scores and rumors, celebrity b.s. and the like is all at our fingertips and if it’s not, it’s upsetting. Every time I visit my dad in the hills of Maine, I get pissed when I get ‘no bars’ on my cell phone. I shouldn’t…but I do. Even though there are times I want to go off the grid, I never want to be denied the access to get back in when I want to.

I was surprised when I first started at my job that the guys didn’t have Blackberrys. The rationale was simple: we’re in front of our computers all day. It’s nice to be invisible every once in a while. Now, we have IPhones and that mindset has completely changed, so I’m not sure what happened. I guess the bug even got us.

So the next time you check your phone in a bank line or update your Away status on your AIM with something catchy, think about this: is it really necessary? And whatever you do, if you see someone walking around with one of the BlueTooth things in their ears…you know, the ones that look like complete d-bags…ask them if you can adjust their reception. Then, grab the thing and step on it.

No matter how connected you think you have to be, no one likes a jerk.