Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How Connected Are You? by Toya Bryant

Connected to what? Technology, social networks, the viral web. These all fall under the umbrella of the Internet. People take pride in their ability to be connected to the people, places and things that can only be found in the digital world.

So here's the question again. How connected are you?
Here's a short quiz to answer that very question.

When I go to any event I:

a. Sit back and enjoy it

b. Make sure I tweet or post an update or pic about everything that happened later

c. How did I forget to bring my phone?? This night stinks

While I am having dinner with friends I:

a. Turn off my phone and enjoying eating and chatting it up with my pals

b. Text my significant other all night while I talk to my friends (I'm a multi-tasker)

c. Have my head buried in my phone so long that I don't notice that everyone has eaten and is leaving

When I'm in class I:
a. Pay attention to the teacher and take good notes in case there is a quiz

b. Listen while looking over the shoulder of the person in front of me trying to read their text messages

c. Secretly upload video and commentary about my Professor onto YouTube

If you chose "a" for any of the questions you are not overly tied to any type of technology and get your enjoyment in life purely from your immediate surroundings.

If you chose "b" for any of the questions you are simply a person who knows his/her way around technology. You are a pretty typical person who knows how to combine technology with the real world.

If you chose "c" for any of the questions you are completely tech savvy and like to stay connected at all times. However, with or without your knowledge your level of connection may be affecting your personal life.

But, how are you offline? How connected are you?

We live in a world in which every action we engage in can be combined with technology. How have you fared in keeping a firm grasp on the things and relationships that do not exist in a virtual world?

Millions of people are now able to interact with one another through social networks. Whether it be a long lost relative, an old flame, a former boss or a present friend we are virtually plugged in at all times. Many would argue that the benefits of being up-to-date with what's going is a necessity in the modern world, but to what extent are we willing to do this?

The way we communicate has changed dramatically in the last ten and even five years, but there is no substitute to the interpersonal connections that can be built with those closest to us. If we allow it. Sometimes technology can enhance these relationships when distance is involved, but it can also drive a wedge between them when technology becomes a hindrance to our ability to communicate with each other face-to-face.

Disconnecting from the web is really about reconnecting with your life and those that matter most. While society has made it acceptable to put the digital life above the physical one we ultimately have to learn to create a harmony between the two.

If you are a parent like I am who also uses technology for professional reasons the ability to step away from the digital and give time and attention to our children is vital. Or in some cases vice versa.

Children in the digital age are born playing video games, texting and surfing the internet. Many are proficient on the keyboard even before they can write well. So it is necessary that parents are able to teach children very early on about how to make their use of technology not be their primary focus. The best way to do that is not by words, but by example.

So now that we have grown accustomed to life in a digital world we need to appreciate our life in the real one by staying "connected" to the things that matter most.

Toya Bryant is a Freelance Writer who focuses on positives changes and actions that impact the family and the community. Not only writing about them, but doing them in her own life by making her primary work volunteer service. She has written for various online publications as well as print magazines. Currently you can find her writing about ways to create a balance between the digital world and the real one at www.DisconnectU.com.

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