In today’s world, we are increasingly becoming more and more connected. It wasn’t that long ago that being connected meant having a pager on your hip or a cell phone to keep in contact with business partners when away from the office.
Today, it’s hard to leave the house without a notebook or smartphone of some sort. Notebooks of course give us nearly the same functionality as our desktops in a portable form-factor, while smartphones allow us to not only communicate via voice, but also via email on a continuous basis.
But the “always connected” atmosphere isn’t stopping there. We’ve seen technology creep into nearly every aspect of our daily lives with the most recent acquisition being our vehicles. Systems like BMW’s i-Drive and Ford’s SYNC allow us to connect smartphones and music players to provide a wealth of in-car infotainment.
We also have in-car GPS systems that not only deliver traffic updates and weather information, but they can also deliver sports scores, flight times for air travel, and a wealth of other information at the push of a button (or the sound of your voice). Companies like Chrysler are even providing in-car mobile internet which opens up a number of new possibilities for on-the-go connectivity — both for good (yet another method for connectivity) and for bad (yet another means for distractions while driving).
Flying on an airplane used to mean that your laptop was relegated to a non-connected status allowing you to perform offline work until you arrived at your next layover or final destination. Now, we are seeing more airlines providing passengers with the convenience of in-flight Wi-Fi, extending our connections with business partners within the United States and across the world from miles above the earth surface.
Given how connected we as a society have become over the past decade or so, one must wonder how far we will take this in the future. The ability to be connected from almost anywhere leads to endless possibilities in the realm of communicating with customers, business partners, co-workers, family members and friends.
However, with great power comes great responsibility. The ability to stay connected in our daily lives can also lead to using technology as a crutch or as “filler”. It can also blur the line between work and leisure, school and play. Businessmen often find themselves plugging along on BlackBerrys long after the work day has ended, while grade school students often must find the time to text friends at any free moment of the day.
As our penchant for technology continues to grow, we’ll need to find a way to have a balance. Our increased connectivity is a great way to expand our reach for all areas of business and education, but we must also learn to not become a slave of our Wi-Fi and cell connections as well.