I scared myself this morning

I had a meeting this morning. I was running early (not the scary part), so rather than meeting at the mall, I suggested that we meet across the street. At the mall I would have had to wait for an hour for the coffee chain to open (not the scary part). Across the street, I was able to order immediately.

I wrote for awhile, in a very scattered way, unable to make one coherent list (not the scary part). My friend showed up. We talked.

I headed for the hospital (not the scary part).

I called our office to find out the name of the wife of the man I was supposed to be visiting. We talked about lunch for the whole staff. We often eat together on Thursdays (not the scary part). I agreed to pick it up.

At the registration desk, I discovered that the man I was going to visit had been released yesterday. So I headed across town to another hospital, another person or two to visit. I arrived and discovered that someone that was supposed to be released yesterday was still in (not the scary part). I also discovered that my cell phone battery was dead (not the scary part).

I spent some time with one man, and didn’t interrupt the therapy session of the other man. I called back to the office to find out where to pick up the food. They sent me to Chick-fil-a at the mall (not the scary part).

While I was driving away from the hospital, I noticed an odd feeling in my chest (the scary part).

It’s not what you think. It’s not anything wrong with my heart, at least not my physical heart. What I noticed, however, is that I began to feel some stress, which, upon reflection, was due completely to being away from a phone and a computer for a whole morning.

And that is terrifying, that feeling is the scary part.

  • I was afraid that I would miss a call from my family. There is no crisis, but we stay in touch and there is a little stress at work for Nancy right now.
  • I was afraid that I would miss arrangements about lunch, that someone would need to change something.
  • I was afraid that I would miss email or comments or some contact from friends.

What scares me is that these aren’t things to be afraid of. These responses are symptoms of a break in the  constant connectedness I and many people I know and love have. This isn’t about just being online. Notice that some of the connectedness is to the people I kissed goodbye this morning and would hug at the end of the day. Some of the connectedness is to the people I would see in 60 minutes and the fear is about lunch.

What scares me is that I talk about wanting time to think, time to be quiet…and when I was given it, it made me twitchy rather than together.

I know. I was working in a very unstructured way, talking to people in the middle of serious issues. There ought to be stress from that, you say. But I do that all the time. It was the disconnect that is disconcerting.

The simple answer is, of course, to make the most of family time this holiday weekend. And I will as we drive 12 hours into northern Wisconsin and back again. The simple answer is to take tech sabbath. The simple answer is to examine my need to please which is amplified by the ability to connect.

But I’m not sure this is a simple answer thing. And I’m not sure that’s it’s just me.

So what do you think? (Not about me, that’s too scary). But what about you? How twitchy do you get when the phone goes dead, when the wifi isn’t available?

How hooked are you on the connect?


10 responses to “I scared myself this morning

  1. I have always marched to a different drum. I’ve never owned a microwave, don’t use tin foil and long ago switched from plastic bags to wax ones. I use cloth napkins – always have. I turned off the TV 12 yrs ago and never looked back. I don’t have a cell phone and absolutely love being disconnected. I find at the core many people have forgotten how to arrange an appt and keep their word. Oh I’ll call you if something comes up. If I say I am going to meet you, then I plan on being there. Can I count on you to do the same? Then what could we possibly need to talk about? If you sense my agitation with cell phones, it’s true I find them really really annoying. The computer on the other hand has been the most tangible intangible I’ve ever experienced and I have to plan to be away from it merely to remind my self it’s OK not to be writing a post at all times! Twitchy is a great word to describe it. However that computer is also how I earn my living.

    I will say this. I have looked at time and computer time a little more closely lately – while on vacation i handled my email in these little 30 minute slots at the library – i got a lot done because i had to – i think i could apply that more to my every day

    I am very glad the scary part – wasn’t really scary 🙂

    and hope you have a great long weekend, I know part of mine will include a bit of disconnect too

  2. Unfortunately Jon, I get scared by the lack of connection sometimes too. I have a BlackBerry and a cell phone, and I am always connected in some way/shape/form. I think it’s actually the fear of the unknown, of what MIGHT happen, that’s scary, and not my fear of disconnection. But that’s hard to understand too.

    Much to ponder. No answers. Only question.

    Thanks Jon. Enjoy your weekend!

  3. Hi Karen!

    Part of what you illustrate very well is that there is something about us, even when we get rid of lots of stuff, that still needs to connect, wants to connect, and is trapped by connecting. But the discipline, that’s important and possible. (I like a phone ‘professionally’ and for family, but realize that there is a big risk.)

    Enjoy the weekend. I’ll wave as we drive through illinois.

  4. Phil –
    As much as i’d love a blackberry, it scares me.

    I think that you are right about the fear of what might happen. And what I know is that we each have our own versions of why we use the technology, the channel and with that, our own fears that drive it.

    And I think about your customer service/support/help passion and realize that being connected is significant for that.

    Thanks for stopping by and talking.

  5. What scares me, is not my own disconnection, but when I mention to a friend or colleague that I’m halfway through my day and haven’t opened my computer (because I’m meeting with people)they make comments like “Who are you?” or “are you ok?”
    I wonder about the perception people have(especially those who are far from connected) of those of us who are connected. So, I am careful, as I know you are, to connect with them using their technology 0.0, 1.0 or 2.0…..when I remember to. 🙂

  6. kind of unrelated
    but linked by vice
    did Jesus smoke or drink?

  7. rob –
    “because i’m meeting with people” – that’s a huge challenge to us, isn’t it? We spend time talking with people, meeting with, counseling, coaching. And it gets in the way of checking messages, checking mail. some of which are spam, but some of which are…talking with, meeting with, counseling, coaching.

    is that why i’m moving back toward email instead of text/twitter?

  8. Kat –
    probably not, probably.

    Not knowing when smoking started, probably not. Knowing that he turned water into wine, it’s likely that even if he didn’t drink it, he made it.

    Did he get drunk? probably not. (just the thought of that much power and no self-control….)

  9. Pingback: I feel your pain « Justin G Roy

  10. I have to admit that on occasion when my Internet goes down, I get that scary feeling, too. I don’t care so much about the phone or TV. But the Internet keeps me connected. Having instant access to information and communication is something I count on.
    I do sometimes take a day away from it all, though.

    I also can get that scary feeling if I have car trouble. I don’t have good access to public transportation, and don’t like to impose on others. On the other hand, (partly from a conservation and economic perspective) I do make a concerted effort to take a day once in a while where my car doesn’t leave the driveway.

    I think keeping connected is also about maintaining a certain level of independence and control in our life – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.