My last post (and various on and offline responses to it) have gotten me thinking about what sorts of things we’re always connected to. I’ve been thinking in terms of simply being “always connected” and not paying much attention to the blank that follows (being “always connected to _______”). Or maybe I’ve been filling in that blank with something along the lines of “telecommunications grid.” Either way, I think I need to consider what else can complete that phrase.
So, just off the top of my head, here’s a list of a few things we can be connected to: faith/God (as discussed in previous post), family and friends, the community, our past/heritage, nature.
But the kind of constant connectivity I’m talking about is a literal connection. Though there may not be an actual wire connecting my device to the telecommunications grid, with it I have a connection to the internet and through that, the world. This physical connection can lead to being in perpetual contact with family, friends and co-workers. But it has nothing to do with a more spiritual connection to nature, faith, etc… Like I said before, that connection – when it exists – does not require a cell phone or the internet.
So, what have I learned from this little thought exercise? That the “always connected” I’m talking about is the communication-enabling internet connection one gets with laptops, smartphones, PDAs, etc… And as an organizational communication scholar, I am interested in the ways we talk about and make sense of that kind of constant connection. How does being always connected to the telecommunications grid impact being (always) connected to work?