Wednesday, January 28, 2009

For God's Sake, Don't Make Eye Contact!

I was on the road for work today, which is to say that I went to Phoenix for a meeting. As usually happens on days like this, I spent the bulk of the day in airports, Lindbergh Field and Sky Harbor International, to be exact.

Today, I had to fly to Phoenix, got to the client's office, have a meeting and do a walkthrough of their new office to plan an installation. Along the way, we fleshed out the project requirements and roughed in the equipment list. My kit for this little adventure: a notepad, pen and pencil, digital camera, ipod and book for the plane. That's it. No laptop. No portable printers, projectors or any of the other crap I see people carrying around in the security line. What I like about traveling this way is that I can get through security without using the plastic bins, my briefcase is nice and light and, when I get to my gate, I get to be one of the few people who isn't buried in a screen.

I confess, I do carry a Blackberry, and it's a handy little fucker, but most days I'd just as soon hammer a ten penny spike right through its vampiric little silicon heart.

The fact is, as I watch people freaking out that they have to remove their bluetooth headsets to go through the metal detectors, or even better, spend an entire flight with the thing deactivated but still in place; as I watch them sitting in crappy airport gate chairs for hours at a time hammering away on emails and chatting into their little headsets, I wonder what's wrong with me.

I hate being connected. In fact, the harder I am to find, the happier I tend to be. I can go a whole day without my phone. I can go several without checking email. I've set things up at work so that they can run without me checking in constantly. When I do check in, it's usually because I'm bored, and not because they need me to do anything back at the ranch. It's this way because I made it this way. I am replaceable. We should all be replaceable. We should all be able to unplug, to be able to sit down and read a book without a bluetooth headset on, to look around a room or out a window and not at a computer screen.

I get productivity, I do. I get that we all have a thousand little things at one time that require our attention. What I don't get is why we think all of it is so urgent.

Maybe I spent too much time in the wilderness as a kid. Maybe I'm just a bad employee. Maybe I'm missing something and it really is cool to be that connected. I just don't get it. Text me a comment. If I turn my phone back on any time soon, I promise I'll read it.

6 comments:

Annie said...

Agreed. My brother keeps telling me I should get a crackberry. My response - Why? When I leave work at 5:00, I don't want to know who forgot they're having a sale tomorrow and wants to know if they can get a banner before they open in the morning.

One of my biggest (not my only) pet peeves with Bluetooth headsets or any other hands-free cell phone apparatus is the people that are talking "hands-free" yet they find it necessary to have their phone in their hand the whole time. Defeat the purpose much?

gunnbr said...

Believe it or not, I do absolutely no work on my Blackberry. I don't even have any way to check my work email on it. What I use it for is 100% fun. :)

danban said...

what really annoys me is that some people feel that they have the absolute right to get ahold of you instantaneously these days. i've had people get mad at me because they can't always reach me by phone, by text, by im, by email, or by just generally stalking the hell out of me!! that sense of instant gratification just seems odd and wrong to me.....guess i'm with ya on this post!

ann marie said...

Just don't go on a solo spiritual juorney quest into the alaskan wilderness with nothing but a backpack and a bag of rice. I hear that usually doesn't work out so wel . . .

shasta71 said...

This topic is ripe for anthropological inquiry. I suspect researchers will find that it is ultimately maladaptive to society for people to be so connected all the time. And, some people are figuring this out. My dad, for one, still has a rotary-dial telephone... although my sister and I did convince him that a cell phone does have its conveniences, too. You are not the one who has something wrong with you; you are the one who recognizes that we are made to live slowly. Good for you!

Paul Anderson said...

Is the title of this post a Gurujanism?