The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Columns

February 6, 2014

Susan Miller: Being intentional in a connected world

Looking back, those three little words seemed so innocuous. “You’ve got mail.” How could we know that phrase was the precursor of a communications tsunami?

What a difference a few decades make! No longer are we tethered to our Commodores or Gateways. Most of us carry much more powerful computers in our pocket.

Today, it is not just email we must contend with, but a cacophony of tweets, IM’s, pings and posts. The same technology that has unchained us from our desk chairs has ensnared us in the web of social media.

Oh, grow up and turn it off, you say. Sounds easy enough, but I read a report that explained humans are hard-wired to crave electronic stimuli. Experiments on rats found that the rodents would push a lever in anticipation of a reward as long as occasional rewards arrived.

What’s more, the rats were more compelled to respond when the rewards were spaced erratically at random intervals. We know not every email or tweet will serve up juicy content, but we know that possibility exists.

And since social media is all about us, it is particularly tempting. Push the lever– it’s hard to resist a reward.

All of that stopping to check for the “prize” is disruptive. It is hard to get into work flow with the vibrate setting on a phone buzzing. I’m convinced that us moms are slowly acquiring a sixth sense that alerts us to the most subtle of cell phone vibrations in our handbags.

These beeps and alerts cause strategy to suffer too. Because we can respond in the moment, we feel compelled to so do. But a speedy reply prevents the opportunity to pause, reflect, contemplate and see new connections that might not otherwise be illuminated.

When I think about Robert Frost coming across two paths in the woods, I don’t imagine flashing cursors saying “Like Me” or “Click Here.” I imagine the poet kicking a snow-dusted boot and quietly considering the possibilities of each path. Brevity of response very rarely trumps quality of response.

Text Only
Columns
Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

How are you spending Easter Sunday?

At church
At an Easter egg hunt
In the great outdoors
A lazy day at home
     View Results